The 10 Best Burger Joints in Los Angeles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double Double from In-N-Out Burger

Double Double from In-N-Out Burger

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

Hickory Burger from The Apple Pan

Hickory Burger from The Apple Pan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Me Some Poké, Mon

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

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

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

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

Sweetfin Poké is located at 829 Broadway in Santa Monica.

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

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


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

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


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

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


Taro Chips

Taro Chips


Orange Mint and Guava Ice Teas

Orange Mint and Guava Ice Teas


In Santa Monica on Broadwayd

In Santa Monica


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Checking All The Boxes

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

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

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

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

Hot Skillet Focaccia, Dandelion Greens and Ricotta

Hot Skillet Focaccia, Dandelion Greens and Ricotta


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

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


Fried Wild Mushrooms with Persian Garlic Sauce

Fried Wild Mushrooms with Persian Garlic Sauce


House Made Pappardelle with Pork Belly Bolognese and Fried Sage

House Made Pappardelle with Pork Belly Bolognese and Fried Sage


Smoked Lamb Lettuce Wraps

Smoked Lamb Lettuce Wraps


Dry Aged Churrasco Sirloin Cap with Crispy Onions and Horseradish Cream

Dry Aged Churrasco Sirloin Cap with Crispy Onions and Horseradish Cream


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

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


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

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


A Beautiful Space

A Beautiful Space



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And Then There’s Maude

Sturgeon with Tea, Tomburri and Dandelion

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

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

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

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

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

Carrot Salad with Sunchoke, Blood Orange and Leeks

Carrot Salad with Sunchoke, Blood Orange and Leeks

Salmon Crudo with Rye, Radish and Celery

Salmon Crudo with Rye, Radish and Celery

Duck Terrine with Braised Red Cabbage and Frisee

Duck Terrine with Braised Red Cabbage and Frisee

Duck Raviolo with Winter Greens, Celeriac and Valoute

Duck Raviolo with Winter Greens, Celeriac and Valoute

Lamp Rump with Turnip, Cous Cous and Chard

Lamp Rump with Turnip, Cous Cous and Chard

Chocolate with Burnt Orange, Tarragon and Hazelnut

Chocolate with Burnt Orange, Tarragon and Hazelnut

Cookies

Cookies

Intimate and romantic

Intimate and romantic


Maude on Urbanspoon

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It’s Zo Good

Black Sea Bass Sushi with Kelp
In the competitive world of LA Sushidom, Sushi Zo is a titan. How good is Sushi Zo? It’s Breaking Bad good. It’s Chris Paul and Blake Griffin good. Or in terms my wife can understand, it’s Saks Fifth Avenue Friends and Family Sale good.

The original location resides in a Cheviot Hills shopping center and has been a mecca for sushi lovers for the past eight years. But if you’re willing to shell out some serious shekels, the newer location Downtown in the Old Bank District is the one to really get excited about. Its menu is strictly omakase (chef’s choice) and consists of 20 or so expertly curated and prepared bite-sized slices of the best raw fish you’ve ever consumed, along with a few other amazing Japanese delicacies including Sushi Zo’s famous Squid Noodles with Uni and Truffle Salt. It simply does not get better than this.

Sushi Zo is located at 9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles (in Cheviot Hills) and 334 S. Main St, Los Angeles (Downtown).

Kumamoto Oysters

Kumamoto Oysters


Amberjack

Amberjack Sashimi


Sea Bass

Sea Bass Sashimi


Bluefin Tuna Sashimi

Bluefin Tuna Sashimi


Octopus

Octopus Sashimi


Halibut Sushi

Halibut Sushi


Scallop Sushi

Scallop Sushi


Wild Caught Yellow Tail Belly

Wild Caught Yellow Tail Belly Sushi


Medium Toro

Medium Toro Sushi


Amberjack Sushi

Amberjack Sushi


Pompano Sushi

Pompano Sushi


Ankimo

Ankimo (Monk Fish Liver)


Japanese Barracuda Sushi

Japanese Barracuda Sushi


Chawanmushi (Egg Custard Dish)

Chawanmushi (Egg Custard Dish)


Red Snapper Sushi

Red Snapper Sushi


Squid Noodles with Uni and Truffle Salt

Squid Noodles with Uni and Truffle Salt


Salmon Roe

Salmon Roe


Uni (Sea Urchin) Sushi

Uni (Sea Urchin) Sushi


Giant Clam Sushi

Giant Clam Sushi


Cod Sperm Sac Sushi

Cod Sperm Sac Sushi


Sea Eel Sushi

Sea Eel Sushi


Sea Bass Soup

Sea Bass Soup


Tamago (Omelette)

Tamago (Omelette)


Sushi Masters

Sushi Masters




Sushi Zo on Urbanspoon
Zo on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Cheviot Hills, Downtown

A Nutty Place in the Valley

Smiles
One of my favorite tv shows growing up was The Brady Bunch. Not only was it the perfect depiction of 1970’s suburban idealism, but it taught me “caveat emptor” and not to play ball in the house. If you want to check out the actual home used as the Brady house exterior, it’s located at 11222 Dilling Street in Studio City. While you’re in Studio City, I suggest you complete your Brady Bunch expedition by heading over to Spread PB for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the quintessential suburban after-school snack.

Spread PB is a new restaurant devoted entirely to peanut butter, which they make themselves in numerous varieties including regular, nutty, dark chocolate, maple bacon, coconut, cinnamon raisin and banana chunky. Their extensive menu features childhood favorites such as “Ants on a Log” (celery sticks with peanut butter topped with raisins or chocolate chips) and “Smiles” (apple slices layered with peanut butter and mini marshmallows; pictured above) and creative concoctions such as “Banana Sushi” and greek yogurt peanut butter smoothies.

The main attractions, however, are the sandwiches. You can build your own with your choice of peanut butter, bread and a long list of toppings, or select from a list of house specialities. My favorites are the Chicken Curry Sandwich with green curry peanut butter and “The P’s Please” sandwich with peanut butter, pickles and potato chips. Both are surprisingly good; perhaps even better than the ones Carol and Alice used to make for Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy.

SpreadPB is located at 12215, Ventura Blvd, Suite 104 in Studio City.

The P's Please (Peanut Butter, Pickles and Potato Chips) on Cinnamon Raisin Bread

The P’s Please (Peanut Butter, Pickles and Potato Chips) on Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Chicken Curry Sandwich with Green Curry Peanut Butter

Chicken Curry Sandwich with Green Curry Peanut Butter

Dogwich (Banana, Peanut Butter, Jelly and Chocolate Chips on a Hot Dog Bun)

Dogwich (Banana, Peanut Butter, Jelly and Chocolate Chips on a Hot Dog Bun)

Banana Sushi

Banana Sushi

Berry Berry Nuts and Bananas (Blueberry Bread, Peanut Butter, Strawberries, Blueberries and Bananas)

Berry Berry Nuts and Bananas (Blueberry Bread, Peanut Butter, Strawberries, Blueberries and Bananas)

Ants on a Log (Celery Sticks with Peanut Butter and Raisins or Chocolate Chips)

Ants on a Log (Celery Sticks with Peanut Butter and Raisins or Chocolate Chips)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

The Peanut Gallery

The Peanut Gallery

The Brady House in Studio City

The Brady Bunch House in Studio City


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I Came, Orsa, I Conquered.

Uni Risotto

There’s a state of consciousness that I refer to as “aesthetic bliss.” It’s when one or more of your senses is completely enraptured as a result of a highbrow pursuit. It’s the feeling you get while listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, taking in the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, or viewing a Kandinsky exhibit at LACMA. The food version of this is Orsa & Winston, the dining experience from local superstar chef Josef Centeno.

Centeno is the creative talent behind awesome hipster eateries Bäco Mercat and Bar Ama, as well as the former chef of Lazy Ox Canteen. With Orsa & Winston, Centeno now has a more sophisticated environment to show off his mad skills. The menu has you select from either a five or eight course seasonal tasting menu (or with a 72 hour advance reservation, you can truly indulge and opt for the “Super-Omakase” of more than 20 courses). All come with optional wine pairings, as well as optional supplemental dishes. Each tasting menu is a procession of beautiful, delectable and perfectly executed small plates to experience and savor.

Needless to say, such aesthetic bliss is not inexpensive. But for a special occasion or when you just want to treat yourself to an evening of exceptional food and wine, Orsa & Winston is worth the splurge.

Orsa & Winston is located at 122 W. 4th Street, Los Angeles (Downtown).

Buttermilk and Summer Corn Soup

Buttermilk and Summer Corn Soup


Smoked Sockeye Salmon Crudo

Smoked Sockeye Salmon Crudo


"Breakfast in a Shell" (Coddled Egg, Maple Syrup, Pancetta, Semolina and Balsamic Whipped Cream)

“Breakfast in a Shell” (Coddled Egg, Maple Syrup, Pancetta, Semolina and Balsamic Whipped Cream)


Milk Bread Focaccia

Milk Bread Focaccia with Parsley, Parmigiano and Speck


Braised Lamb Belly with Cranberry Beans, Hericot Vert and Nectarine Bustarda

Braised Lamb Belly with Cranberry Beans, Hericot Vert and Nectarine Bustarda


Melon Granita topped with Huckleberry and Lavender Mint

Melon Granita topped with Huckleberry and Lavender Mint


Chocolate Caramel Crostada with Candied Banana, served with Banana Rum Ice Cream and Peanut Toffee

Chocolate Caramel Crostada with Candied Banana, served with Banana Rum Ice Cream and Peanut Toffee


Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies


Modern and minimalist decor

Modern and minimalist decor


On a cool street downtown

In the Old Bank District downtown



Orsa & Winston on Urbanspoon

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The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2014

The Best of 2014
2014 was a rough year. Escalated conflict in the Middle East, missing jetliners, and an Ebola outbreak; the hits just kept on coming. So it’s not surprising that my annual list this year of the ten best things I consumed and wrote about in the past year include mostly comfort foods. Let’s hope for greener pastures in 2015. In the meantime, here are some things to help you feel a little better:

Aussie Pie Tiger Stack
10. Tiger Stack with Chicken and Tarragon Pie from Aussie Pie Kitchen. Foodwise, there are few things in this world more comforting than meat pies. Stack a chicken tarragon one on a mound of garlic mashed potatoes and top it with bacon-laced mushy minty peas and a ladleful of thyme gravy, and let the emotional healing begin!

Fresh Peach Stuffed Donut from The Donut Man
9. Fresh Peach Stuffed Donut from The Donut Man. This year I went in search of the best donut shops in LA. The research, as you can imagine, was gruelling. The winner was The Donut Man, a shack located on historic Route 66 in Glendora, whose specialty is an amazing seasonal donut stuffed with either fresh strawberries or peaches.

Mother Moo Creamery
8. Classic Butterscotch Ice Cream with Butterscotch Sauce from Mother Moo Creamery. This year I also set out to find the best artisan ice cream shops in LA. My top pick was Mother Moo Creamery in Sierra Madre. After sampling all of their flavors (my dedication to this blog knows no bounds!), my favorite was an insanely good Butterscotch Ice Cream, which was made even better when topped with a rich housemade butterscotch topping.

Brioche Toast, Cranberry Bourbon Jam and Nut Butter
7. Brioche Toast, Cranberry Bourbon Jam and Nut Butter from Sqirl. Things that are simple but perfectly executed can often be magical. Case in point: the brioche toast with housemade jam and nut butter at hipster breakfast haven Sqirl is pure perfection.

Pancotto
6. Pancotto from The Factory Kitchen. Everything I’ve eaten at The Factory Kitchen has been so good, it’s hard to single out just one dish for this list. But if I had to pick one it would be this unusual homage to a peasant bread soup with duck egg, red potato vellutata, sauteed greeens, semolina bread crostone and speck.

BBQ Spot Prawns
5. BBQ Spot Prawns from Pot. LA superstar chef Roy Choi’s restaurants in the new Line Hotel in K-town are probably the hippest and most happening eateries in the city right now. My favorite dish there: these crispy BBQ Spot Prawns which I got to pick out myself before they were grilled and served on a bed of sizzling onions.

Uni Pasta
4. Uni Pasta from EMC Seafood. Creamy uni pasta is one of those go-to dishes that I always order when I see it on a menu. The version at EMC Seafood is one of the best I’ve ever had.

Peanut Butter Ganache, Roasted Grape Ice Cream, Griddled Pound Cake and Chocolate Feuilletine
3. Peanut Butter Ganache, Roasted Grape Ice Cream, Griddled Pound Cake and Chocolate Feuilletine from Saint Martha. If you read this blog regularly, you know how obsessed I am with peanut butter. Saint Martha, one of my favorite new restaurants, has one of the best peanut butter desserts ever.

Salt and Vinegar Popcorn
2. Salt and Vinegar Popcorn from The Church Key. This specially seasoned popcorn is so addictive, it should be regulated by the Federal government.

Kazu Nori
1. Crab Hand Roll from KazuNori. I am completely obsessed with this hand roll. I refer to it as “The Precious.” It is my favorite thing that I consumed and wrote about this year.

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Filed under Downtown, Glendora, Koreatown, Santa Monica, Sierra Madre, West Hollywood

Saints Be Praised

St Martha
Until recently, the popularity of bone marrow in modern high end cuisine has confounded me. I know it’s an ingredient adored by celebrated chefs and sophisticated diners, but I’m not a fan of its usually gelatinous texture. Also it has been hard for me to get past the fact that restaurants are charging good money for something my poor Eastern European ancestors scraped and sucked out of bones because they couldn’t afford any of the better parts of the cow.

My feelings on bone marrow, however, have changed recently due to some amazing Bone Marrow Beignets that I ate at an incredible new LA restaurant called Saint Martha, where they were served with Steak and Oyster Tartare, along with a Champagne Sabayon that is playfully presented to look like a fried egg. Nick Erven, the über talented chef at Saint Martha, excels at reinterpreting and refining low brow and comfort foods, which also include an excellent brisket and an insanely good fried chicken served with steelcut oats, carrots, pickled dates and Moorish spices. Even Saint Martha’s standout dessert is an upscale version of a classic PB&J, but assembled with peanut butter ganache, roasted grape ice cream and griddled pound cake.

In keeping with the high/low theme, this intimate and cutting-edge restaurant, which is named after the patron saint of cooks and servants, is ensconced in a lackluster Koreatown strip mall. Despite the K-Town location, Saint Martha would be best described as New American and features an extensive and adventurous wine list. It has quickly become one of my favorite new spots in the city.

Saint Martha is located at 740 S. Western Ave, Los Angeles (in Koreatown).

Octopus with Koshihikari Rice, Sauce Nero, Lardo and Espelette

Octopus with Koshihikari Rice, Sauce Nero, Lardo and Espelette

Steak and Oyster Tartare with Champagne Sabayon and Bone Marrow Beignets

Steak and Oyster Tartare with Champagne Sabayon and Bone Marrow Beignets

Crab "Okonomiyaki"

Crab “Okonomiyaki”

Chicken Liver Mousse with Mushroom, Hazelnut Praline, Pickled Blueberries and Toast

Chicken Liver Mousse with Mushroom, Hazelnut Praline, Pickled Blueberries and Toast

Crispy Chicken Thigh with Steelcut Oats, Carrots, Pickled Dates and Moorish Spices

Crispy Chicken Thigh with Steelcut Oats, Carrots, Pickled Dates and Moorish Spices

Pecan Smoked Brisket with Chili-Hoisin, Lettuce and Shaved Root Vegetables

Pecan Smoked Brisket with Chili-Hoisin, Lettuce and Shaved Root Vegetables

Peanut Butter Ganache, Roasted Grape Ice Cream, Griddled Pound Cake and Chocolate Feuilletine

Peanut Butter Ganache, Roasted Grape Ice Cream, Griddled Pound Cake and Chocolate Feuilletine

One of my new favorite places

One of my favorite new places in the city

Saint Martha

Saint Martha


Saint Martha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Koreatown

The Pies Have It

Aussie Pie Tiger Stack
People Magazine just named Australian actor and superhero portrayer Chris Hemsworth “Sexiest Man Alive,” but I’m more interested in another sexy Australian import. The hot and seductive meat pies at Aussie Pie Kitchen in Santa Monica are my latest obsession. Each has a buttery and flaky crust that melts in your mouth and encases a juicy and perfectly seasoned filling. My favorites are the Chicken + Tarragon, the Lamb + Rosemary, the Steak + Shiraz, and the unique “Surfer’s Pie” with Green Curry Chicken and Coconut Milk.

For the full experience, I recommend ordering a “Tiger Stack.” The pie of your choice will be perched on a pile of Garlic Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and topped with a scoop of bacon-laced Mushy Minty Peas and a ladleful of Creamy Thyme Gravy. This decadent concoction is best enjoyed with a sweet and spicy Bundaberg Ginger Beer and followed by one of Aussie Pie Kitchen’s high-end coffee drinks. Their “Flat White,” an Australian specialty which is similar to a Latte, but stronger, is not only delicious but will keep you awake after carbo-loading with the pies and mashed potatoes.

Aussie Pie Kitchen is located at 2510 Main Street in Santa Monica.

G'Day Meat Pies!

G’Day Meat Pies!

Ground Beef and Shiraz Pie

Ground Beef and Shiraz Pie

Sufferin' Succotash!

Sufferin’ Succotash!

Stacked!

Stacking options

Lamb and Rosemary Pie

Lamb and Rosemary Pie

Brekkie Roll

Brekkie Roll

Awesome Coffee

White Flat


Aussie Pie Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Santa Monica

Key Party

The Church Key
The Church Key is a restaurant full of surprises. While there’s a menu with diverse offerings from Potato Pierogies to Jidori Chicken “Tikka Masala,” a good part of your meal is likely to come from “dim sum” carts that cruise around the restaurant. Each cart has a variety of whimsical and unexpected small plate offerings such as Baja fish tacos, bahn mi sandwiches, falafel balls and even sushi. If you’re lucky, one of the carts will have Church Key’s “Cheetos,” which are fried chicharron-style pig ears dusted with cheese powder and seved with whipped avocado mousse. They’re amazingly good.

At some point in your meal, a woman will appear dresssed as a 1960’s airline stewardess with a Pan Am beverage cart. Don’t worry; she works there. She’ll offer you the chance to purchase “Otter Pop”-type cocktails, which she’ll prepare for you on the spot with liquid nitrogen. I suggest you accept.

But the biggest surprise at Church Key is despite all the theatrics and high-concept fun, the food is for the most part really good. The Tapioca Crusted Tai Snapper with Broccoli Rabe, Sushi Rice Cake and White Soy Vinaigrette is phenomenal. I also recommend the Cured Beef Bresaola with Plum Mostarda, House Pickles and Grilled Sourdough. The Salt and Vinegar Popcorn is like crack and free of charge. For dessert, go for the Brioche Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze and Cinnamon Caramel. You deserve it.

The Church Key is located at 8730 Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood.

Salt and Vinegar Popcorn

Salt and Vinegar Popcorn

Pig Ear Cheetos

Pig Ear Cheetos

Smoked Pork Ribs

Smoked Pork Ribs

Baja Fish Tacos

Baja Fish Tacos

Cheese Roll

Bacon and Cheese Roll

BBQ Pork Bun

BBQ Pork Bun

Osoky's Potato Pierogies with Peach Butter, Aged Gouda, Creme Fraiche and Chives

Osoky’s Potato Pierogies with Peach Butter, Aged Gouda, Creme Fraiche and Chives

Heirloom Tomato, Melon and Peach Salad with Sheeps Milk Gouda, Pickled Peach Vinaigrette and Watercress

Heirloom Tomato, Melon and Peach Salad with Sheeps Milk Gouda, Pickled Peach Vinaigrette and Watercress

Cured Beef Bresaola with Plum Mostarda, House Pickles and Grilled Sourdough

Cured Beef Bresaola with Plum Mostarda, House Pickles and Grilled Sourdough

Tapioca Crusted Tai Snapper with Broccoli Rabe, Sushi Rice Cake and White Soy Vinaigrette

Tapioca Crusted Tai Snapper with Broccoli Rabe, Sushi Rice Cake and White Soy Vinaigrette

Jidori Chicken "Tikka Masala" with Dehydrated Mango, Cilantro Raita and Basmati Rice

Jidori Chicken “Tikka Masala” with Dehydrated Mango, Cilantro Raita and Basmati Rice

Brioche Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze and Cinnamon Caramel

Brioche Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze and Cinnamon Caramel

Banana Toffee Pudding with Banana Cake, Toffee Caramel and Banana Creme Brûlée Foam

Banana Toffee Pudding with Banana Cake, Toffee Caramel and Banana Creme Brûlée Foam

Cocktails!

The Cocktails have names like “Nice Melons,” “Purple Finger Pirate” and “The Family Jewels”

The dim sum carts are full of surprises.

The dim sum carts are full of surprises.

Anyone for Liquid Nitrogen "Otter Pops" from a Pan Am beverage cart?

Anyone for Liquid Nitrogen “Otter Pops” from a Pan Am beverage cart?

A handy card to let the dim sum cart pushers know you're done

A handy card to let the dim sum cart pushers know you’re done

It's a party here.

There’s a party going on right here.

Church Key on Urbanspoon

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This is How I Roll

Kazu Nori
I have been completely and unabashedly obsessed with Chef Kazunori Nozawa’s blue crab handroll (which I will hereafter refer to as “the Precious”) since I first discovered it 20 years ago at the legendary Sushi Nozawa in Studio City. Made with crispy melt-in-your-mouth seaweed, warm rice, and a generous dollop of super fresh blue crab mixed with tasty housemade mayonnaise, the Precious was the fireworks finale that always ended the mind-blowing omakase meals that Nozawa was famous for.

While Chef Nozawa retired a couple years ago and closed his famous restaurant, the Precious miraculously lived on at a new chain of unconventional sushi bars called Sugarfish, which is owned by Nozawa and his son. But the journey of the Precious does not end there. Nozawa and son have now debuted KazuNori, a temple of sorts devoted almost exclusively to Nozawa’s classic hand rolls.

Located in one of the most hipstery parts of Downtown, KazuNori is a cozy and casual joint; a bustling U-shaped 24-seat bar, within which sushi masters prepare Nozawa’s rolled delights for instant and euphoric consumption. I recommend ordering a combo of three, four or five hand rolls. The scallop, toro, yellowtail and lobster ones are spectacular, but of course nothing beats the Precious.

KazuNori is located at 421 S Main St, Los Angeles (Downtown).

Halibut Sashimi

The Halibut Sashimi


Toro Hand Roll

The Toro Hand Roll


The Locale

The Downtown Locale


The Instructions

The Instructions


The Bar

The Bar


The Making of the Hand Rolls

The Making and Consuming of the Hand Rolls



Kazunori on Urbanspoon

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Labor Day Weekend for Foodies

The Taste LA Times
Who doesn’t love a food festival? If you’re in LA this Labor Day Weekend, there’s a great one happening on the Paramount Pictures lot. It’s put on by The Los Angeles Times and features over 125 of LA’s top restaurants spread out over five different events. Some of my favorite places participating include The Gorbals, Hinoki and the Bird, Jitlada, Fishing with Dynamite, Loteria Grill, Chichén Itzá, Stella Barra Pizzeria and Plan Check Kitchen + Bar. Wine, Beer and Spirits will be plentiful.

You can get more information and buy tickets here.

Maple Bacon Cinnamon Roll baked by LA Times Test Kitchen chef Noelle Carter

Maple Bacon Cinnamon Roll baked by LA Times Test Kitchen chef Noelle Carter will be featured at the Sunday brunch event.

Mexican French Toast from Loteria Grill chef Jimmy Shaw

Mexican Sweet Roll “Concha” French Toast from Loteria Grill chef Jimmy Shaw will also be served at the Sunday brunch.

Smokey Fried Chicken from Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

Smokey Fried Chicken from Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

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11 Best Artisan Ice Cream Shops in LA

Neveux Artisan Creamery
I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream . . . unless you’re from LA, where consuming ice cream is a guilty pleasure that you’re discreet about.

But when Angelenos are looking to quietly indulge in creamy frozen bliss, there are thankfully a lot of great choices. The latest craze is artisan ice cream shops that produce small batches of gourmet product with a high cream content, top notch ingredients, and flavors that are often exotic and unusual.

Here are my eleven favorite ice cream joints in the city (gelaterias excluded):

Butterscotch Ice Cream and Butterscotch Sauce from Mother Moo Creamery

Butterscotch Ice Cream and Butterscotch Sauce from Mother Moo Creamery

1. Mother Moo Creamery (17 Kersting Ct in Sierra Madre) Located in the quaint little village of Sierra Madre, just east of Pasadena, this is my new favorite ice cream place in the city. There are so many amazing flavors here, it’s a challenge to choose just one or two. Recommended flavors: Classic Butterscotch, Salty Chocolate and Brownie.

McConnell's Ice Cream

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams

2. McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams (317 S Broadway, Los Angeles in Downtown). This famous Santa Barbara ice cream shop just opened a branch here in the newly gentrified Grand Central Market. It’s awesome. Recommended flavors: Churros Con Leche, Double Peanut Butter Chip, Turkish Coffee, Summer Fruit Cobbler.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream from Sweet Rose Creamery

Salted Caramel Ice Cream from Sweet Rose Creamery

3. Sweet Rose Creamery (225 26th St #51, Santa Monica in the Brentwood Country Mart, 826 Pico Blvd in Santa Monica, and 7565 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles in Mid-City). Everything about Sweet Rose is outstanding and the choices of ice creams and toppings are amazing and extensive. Recommended Flavors: Salted Caramel, Fresh Mint with Homemade Chocolate Chips, Summer Corn.

Peddler's Creamery

Peddler’s Creamery

4. Peddler’s Creamery (458 S. Main St, Los Angeles in Downtown) Hipsters love ice cream too, especially at this cool looking shop which serves small batches of bicycle-churned ice cream made with organic, fair-trade, locally sourced ingredients. A percentage of their profits go to social and environmental causes. Recommended Flavors: Chocolate Cacao, Pancake Batter, Cinnamon.

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream from Mashti Malone's

5. Mashti Malone’s (1525 N. La Brea Ave, Los Angeles in Hollywood) This unique shop specializes in Persian-style ice creams and sorbets made with ingredients like Rosewater and Saffron. But don’t overlook their American flavors like Peanut Butter, which are also phenomenal. Recommended Flavors: Rosewater Saffron with Pistachios, Ginger Rosewater, Peanut Butter

Three Twins Ice Cream

Three Twins Ice Cream

6. Three Twins Ice Cream (2726 Main St in Santa Monica) This Northern California import, which opened only a few months ago, has wickedly good organic ice cream. I love that a “single” is actually two flavors! Recommended flavors: Lemon Cookie, Bittersweet Chocolate and Dad’s Cardamom.

Blueberry Pie Ice Cream from Quenelle

Blueberry Pie Ice Cream from Quenelle

7. Quenelle (2214 W Magnolia Blvd in Burbank) This cute little shop opened just last year on a hip and funky stretch of Magnolia Boulevard in the Valley. Their Blueberry Pie flavor (pieces of Blueberry pie in creamy vanilla ice cream) is pretty much mandatory when ordering. Other recommended flavors: Vanilla Mascarpone, Strawberry Shortcake, Miso.

Carmela Ice Cream

Carmela Ice Cream

8. Carmela Ice Cream (2495 E Washington Blvd in Pasadena and 7920 W. Third Street, Los Angeles in Mid-City) I discovered this little gem several years ago at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. Even though they have brick and mortar locations now, they still sell their amazing ice cream at certain farmer’s markets around town and purchase many of their ingredients from other farmer’s market vendors. Recommended flavors: Salted Caramel, Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean, Lavender Honey and Rosemary Toasted Pine Nut

Fosselman's Ice Cream

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Ice Cream from Fosselman’s Ice Cream

9. Fosselman’s Ice Cream Company (1824 W Main St in Alhambra) This San Gabriel Valley landmark is over 91 years old and is still run by the same family. If you don’t want to drive all the way to Alhambra, you can always find a few of their super tasty flavors at Brian’s Shaved Ice in the Valley and on Sawtelle in Little Osaka. Recommended flavors: Chocolate Dipped Strawberry, Butter Pecan, Lemon Custard, Toasted Almond.

Scoops Westside

Scoops Westside

10. Scoops (712 N. Heliotrope Dr, Los Angeles in East Hollywood and 3400 Overland Ave, Los Angeles in Palms) One of the first Artisan Ice Cream places in the city, Scoops is constantly offering new and exotic flavors. For best selection, get there early in the day because flavors often run out. Recommended flavors: Brown Bread, Red Velvet Toffee, Horchata.

Neveux Artisan Creamery & Espresso Bar

Neveux Artisan Creamery & Espresso Bar

11. Neveux Artisan Ice Creamery & Espresso Bar (7407 ½ Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles in West Hollywood) The service is not great here, but the ice cream is. It’s perfect for capping off an afternoon of vintage clothing and vinyl record shopping on Melrose. Recommend flavors: Roasted Banana and Caliente Cinnamon Chocolate.

If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on facebook, and/or follow me on twitter at the top right of this page. You can also find me on Instagram @ConsumingLA. And please forward to your friends!

Fosselman's Ice Cream Company on Urbanspoon
McConnell's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon
Neveux Artisan Creamery & Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon
Mashti Malone's on Urbanspoon
Quenelle on Urbanspoon
Mother Moo Creamery on Urbanspoon
Carmela Ice Cream on Urbanspoon
Carmela Ice Cream on Urbanspoon
Scoops on Urbanspoon
Scoops Westside on Urbanspoon
Scoops on Urbanspoon
Sweet Rose Creamery on Urbanspoon
Sweet Rose Creamery on Urbanspoon
Sweet Rose Creamery on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Alhambra, Brentwood, Burbank, Downtown, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Fairfax, Hollywood, Mid-City, Palms, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, West Hollywood, West LA

The Pecking Order

Chicken Wrapped Okra and Zucchini
In the world of proteins, chicken usually ranks well below beef and pork in the eyes and bellies of carnivores. Seen as the healthy but boring choice, a chicken entree is generally selected by those watching their cholesterol or budget, not the thrill-seeking food adventurers and hedonistic gourmands that read this blog. However one small restaurant in Little Tokyo is challenging this perception of chicken as an inferior meat.

Kokekokko is a traditional Japanese yakitori house. Appetizers aside, they serve basically one thing: skewers of exceptionally good charbroiled chicken. Every part of the bird is used. There are skewers of breasts, thighs, gizzards, livers, hearts, wings (my favorite!) and skin. Each are perfectly seasoned and grilled in the middle of the restaurant on top of special imported charcoal. There are also tasty skewers of tsukune (Japanese meatballs) and uzarago tamago (quail eggs). Even the vegetables (pictured above) are wrapped in thin pieces of chicken. I recommend sitting at the bustling bar surrounding the grill and ordering a five or ten skewer combo so you can try a bit of each.

While the food is phenomenal, don’t expect much in the way of service. Unless you’re a Kokekokko regular, chef Tomohiro Sakata, who presides over the culinary festivities, will not give you the time of day. He reserves his attention and special off-menu items for only his most loyal and sycophantic customers who are served their yakitori on personalized black plates instead of the generic white plates given to the rest of us. This blatant show of favoritism doesn’t seem to have hurt Sakahata’s business; the dinner-only restaurant is always packed.

Kokekokko is located at 203 S Central Ave, Los Angeles (Downtown, in Little Tokyo).

Gyoza

Gyoza


Broccoli Salad Appetizer

Broccoli Salad Appetizer


House Salad

House Salad


Chicken Breast

Chicken Breast


Chicken Gizzard and Chicken Liver

Chicken Gizzard and Chicken Liver


Quail Eggs and Chicken Heart

Quail Eggs and Chicken Heart


Chicken Thigh

Chicken Thigh


Chicken Meatball

Chicken Meatball


Chicken Wing

Chicken Wing


Soup comes at the end

Soup comes at the end


Grilled on a charcoal grill right in front of you

Charbroiled right in front of you


A Little Tokyo hotspot

Chicken rules the roost at this Little Tokyo hotspot



Kokekokko on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Downtown

I’m Going Straight to Bell

House Flan
There are not a lot of reasons to visit the City of Bell, a small working-class neighborhood about 15 minutes southeast of Downtown. But if you’re a fan of amazing Mexican food, a trip to Bell is pretty much mandatory. At the top of your list should be La Casita Mexicana, one of the best Mexican restaurants in all of LA County.

While many people rave about La Casita Mexicana’s Chile en Nogada, a poblano chile stuffed with ground beef, dried fruits, walnuts and candied cactus, and topped with pecan cream sauce and pomegranate seeds, my favorite dish is the Conquista Plate, which features a thin steak over grilled cactus, Oaxaca cheese and chile guajillo sauce. The mole sauces which enrobe chicken or pork are also phenomenal and include a traditional black poblano sauce, red and green pipian (pumpkin seed) sauces, and a sauce made with pistachios, green chiles and root beer leaf. The first three of these are also served on top of the complimentary chips that you are given at the beginning of your meal.

If you’re getting dessert at the restaurant, I recommend either the creamy Flan (pictured above) or the crunchy Churros filled with gooey Mexican Caramel. But another good option, and one that’s a bit more fun, is to go next door to the Los Reyes Bakery, which is open 24 hours. Pick up a silver tray and tongs at the counter and walk though the aisles of tall cooling racks, selecting from a vast variety of super-fresh Pan Dulce and other Mexican cakes, cookies and breads including pig-shaped gingerbread-esque Chochinito and sugary heart-shaped Orejas. Each of these is only 50 cents and my family likes to share several and decide which sweet baked Mexican treat reigns supreme.

La Casita Mexicana is located at 4030 Gage Avenue in Bell.

Chips with Mole Sauce

Chips with Mole Sauce


Queso Fundido con Chorizo

Queso Fundido con Chorizo


Potato Soup

Potato Soup


Conquista Plate with thin steak over grilled cactus, Oaxaca cheese and chile guajillo sauce

Conquista Plate with thin steak over grilled cactus, Oaxaca cheese and chile guajillo sauce


Mushroom and Cactus Chile Relleno

Mushroom and Cactus Chile Relleno


Tres Moles with Chicken and Pork

Tres Moles with Chicken and Pork


Housemade Corn Tortillas

Housemade Corn Tortillas


There's a gift shop!

There’s a gift shop!


Los Reyes Bakery next door

Los Reyes Bakery next door



La Casita Mexicana on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Bell

A Wicked Case of the Munchies

"Shorty" Hot Pot with Braised Galbi, Chestnuts, Dates, Taro,  Carrots, Turnips, Scallion and Sesame
It was sad to hear about the death this week of Casey Kasem, the iconic voice of “American Top 40″ and, more importantly, Shaggy, the slouched hippie with a perpetual case of the munchies on “Scooby Doo.” If Kasem’s Shaggy was real and living in LA today, he would probably be hanging out at Pot, the newest restaurant from LA’s most popular chef, Roy Choi.

Located in the Line Hotel, LA’s new hipper-than-hip hotspot in Koreatown, Pot is the coolest, most happening dining scene in the city. The cuisine is Korean comfort food, which feels familiar but, at the same time, transcendent due to Chef Choi’s considerable talent and creativity. The restaurant’s name refers to hot pots, which are the specialty of the house and are served family-style on built-in table burners. But there are many other awesome offerings on the menu, which is in the form of a newspaper with an elderly woman smoking a giant doobie on the cover.

I recommend starting with a cocktail. Both the Kimchi Soju and the Curry Soju are unique, spicy and surprisingly good. The crispy-on-the-bottom Kimchi Fried Rice is an absolute must-have, as are the BBQ Spicy Pork and BBQ Spot Prawns. As for the hot pots, my favorite is the “Shorty” (pictured above), which has Braised Galbi, Chestnuts, Dates, Taro, Carrots, Turnips, Scallion and Sesame, although Shaggy would probably go for the “Boot Knocker” with Tofu, Instant Ramen, Spam, Corned Beef Hash, Spicy Pork Sausage, Rice Cakes, Fish Cakes and Chili Paste, especially after a day of solving mysteries and unmasking villains masquerading as ghosts and zombies.

Pot is located at 3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles (in Koreatown).

Banchan

Banchan


Pickled Kimchi Radish

Pickled Kimchi Radish


Spicy Dried Squid

Spicy Dried Squid


BBQ Spicy Pork

BBQ Spicy Pork


Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi Fried Rice


BBQ Spot Prawns

BBQ Spot Prawns


"Redondo Beach" Hot Pot with Spicy Crab, Bean Sprouts, Sesame, Onions, Nira and Tofu

“Redondo Beach” Hot Pot with Spicy Crab, Bean Sprouts, Sesame, Onions, Nira and Tofu


"Jamaal Wilkes" Hot  Pot with Silky Tofu, Shrimp, Clams, Mussels, Kimchi, Scallion,  Pork Belly and Egg

“Jamaal Wilkes” Hot Pot with Silky Tofu, Shrimp, Clams, Mussels, Kimchi, Scallion, Pork Belly and Egg


Kimchi Soju

Kimchi Soju


In the ultra-hip Line Hotel in K-town

In the ultra-hip Line Hotel in K-town



Pot on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Koreatown

Chocolate Fried Chicken

CocoChicken

Although it sounds like a name for one of Hello Kitty’s friends, ChocoChicken is actually a bold new high-concept restaurant from Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman and former fellow food blogger Sean Robins. It features a breakthrough culinary creation — Chocolate Fried Chicken. This is not chicken in mole sauce, but rather a tasty version of Southern fried chicken that has bittersweet chocolate infused in the batter. The chocolate taste is subtle, but definitely there.

There are also Duck Fat Fries dusted with Chocolate Seasoning, White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes which have been infused with Chocolate Chive Butter and, on the lighter side, Fresh Cut Vegetables served with Miso Ranch Dressing and dusted with Chocolate Spice. There is even sweet Chocolate Ketchup, which is particularly good with the fries. Pretty much the only things that are chocolate-free are the Monkey Bread Biscuits, which come in two varieties: Flakey Butter and Caramelized Bacon. Both are insanely delicious. As you might guess, their full bar features Chocolate Martinis, Chocolate Whiskey and Chocolate Tequila.

ChocoChicken is located at 403 W. 12th Street, Los Angeles (Downtown, near Staples Center). A second location will open shortly in Santa Monica.

Caramelized Bacon and Flakey Butter Monkey Bread Biscuits

Caramelized Bacon and Flakey Butter Monkey Bread Biscuits


Cup of Raw Crudite with Miso Addicted Ranch

Cup of Raw Crudite with “Miso Addicted Ranch”


Chocolate Fried Chicken

Chocolate Fried Chicken


White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes

White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes


Crispy Duck Fat Fries dusted with Choco Seasoning, and served with Chocolate Ketchup

Crispy Duck Fat Fries dusted with Choco Seasoning, and served with Chocolate Ketchup


Electric Chocolate S'mores

Electric Chocolate S’mores Whoopie Pie


"Frying 58" Cocktail with Gin, Grapefruit and Pineapple

“Frying 58″ Cocktail with Gin, Grapefruit and Pineapple


Just a stone's throw from the Staples Center

Just a stone’s throw from the Staples Center



ChocoChicken on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Downtown, Santa Monica

The 13 Best Donut Shops in LA

Best Donut Shops in LA
Loved by cops, Homer Simpson and pretty much everyone else, donuts are entering a renaissance here in Los Angeles. New donut shops are regularly popping up and offering high-end artisan versions of the traditional fried ring-shaped cakes. At the same time, long established shops have been expanding their menus and offering renditions of the latest donut crazes such as maple bacon or the croissant-donut hybrid known as a “cronut.” Excited by these dynamic donut developments, I set out against the advice of my wife and doctor on a mission to find the best donut shops in LA. Here are the winners:

Fresh Peach Stuffed Donut from The Donut Man

Fresh Peach Stuffed Donut from The Donut Man


1. The Donut Man (915 E Rte 66, Glendora). It’s not only the best donut shop in LA, but probably in the top five for the whole country. Located in Glendora on Historic Route 66, it’s well worth the long car trip, which I like to refer to as a “Pilgrimage to the Hole-y Land,” especially from February until Mid-September when they sell their famous fresh strawberry and/or fresh peach stuffed donuts.

Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Chip Donut from Stan's Donuts

Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Chip Donut from Stan’s Donuts


2. Stan’s Donuts (10948 Weyburn Ave, Los Angeles in Westwood). Since I’m a UCLA graduate, this Westwood mainstay is a sentimental favorite, but it’s hard to imagine anyone not falling in love with these donuts. I’m obsessed with the glazed ones generously stuffed with peanut butter and either fresh bananas or jelly.

Maple Bacon Donut from Primo's Donuts

Maple Bacon Donut from Primo’s Donuts


3. Primo’s Donuts (2918 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles in West LA). This little old-school shop on the Westside has sold consistently awesome donuts since 1956. Everything here is super fresh (it helps that Primo’s is only open in the morning and afternoon) and are made from super high-quality ingredients. The glazed Buttermilk Bars, which are slightly crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside, are not to be missed.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Filled Glazed Donut from Donut Friend

Peanut Butter and Jelly Filled Glazed Donut from Donut Friend


4. Donut Friend (5107 York Blvd, Los Angeles in Highland Park). Located on newly gentrified, hipster-laden York Boulevard, Donut Friend is a place to unleash your inner pastry chef. You can design your own custom donut creation by selecting a base donut and picking fillings or toppings such as Nutella, maple or chocolate glaze, fresh fruit, chopped nuts, crushed Oreo cookies, bacon and even Sriacha!

Chocolate Raised Donut from Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts

Chocolate Glazed Raised Donut from Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts


5. Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts (6333 W 3rd St #450, Los Angeles in the Original Farmers Market). Bob’s is an LA instituion, and for good reason. They sell some of the yummiest donuts in town. I especially recommend their warm and uber-fresh Apple Fritters and, if you’re a chocolate lover, you can’t go wrong with one of their Chocolate Glazed Raised Donuts.

Mambo Italiano Donut from Glazed Donut Bistro

Mambo Italiano Donut from Glazed Donut Bistro


6. Glazed Donut Bistro (8807 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood). This brand spanking new eatery is dedicated to creative gourmet donut concoctions for grownups, such as the “S’more Please” with chocolate ganache, crumbled graham cracker streusel and house-made marshmallows, and the “Mambo Italiano” with pistachio glaze, homemade ricotta cheese, chocolate curls and a maraschino cherry. They also offer savory donut treats. UPDATE: Glazed Donut Bistro is closed. Selling donuts in fitness-conscious Boys-town was maybe not such a great idea.

Original Glazed Doughnut from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

Original Glazed Doughnut from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts


7. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (4034 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles in South Los Angeles). Yes, it’s a chain, but it’s better than 90% of all donut places in town. The Original Glazed can’t be beat. The freshest ones come from the South Los Angeles location where they are made right on the premises while you watch.

Original Croissant Style from Kettle Glazed

Original Croissant Style from Kettle Glazed


8. Kettle Glazed (6211 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles in Hollywood). Another new kid on the block, Kettle Glazed is a purveyor of small batch artisan donuts. Daily offerings may include Lemon-Blueberry, Vanilla Bean Glazed and different types of Cronuts. They also have gluten-free options.

Glazed Ube Donut from DK’s Donuts & Bakery

Glazed Ube Donut from DK’s Donuts & Bakery


9. DK’s Donuts & Bakery (1614 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica). This family run shop might have the biggest variety of donuts in the city. Pretty much all donut trends can be found here including several types of Cronut knockoffs. But they also create new varieties as well, including three types of donuts made with ube, a purple yam which is extremely popular in the Philippines.

Red Velvet Donut from S K's Donuts & Croissants

Red Velvet Donut from S K’s Donuts & Croissants


10. S K’s Donuts & Croissants (5850 W 3rd St, Los Angeles in Mid-City). This 24-hour joint produces a bevy of tasty treats. Most of the donuts are traditional but some are modern such as “Skronuts” (their version of Cronuts) and a not-to-be-missed Red Velvet Donut.

Maple Bacon Cronut from California Donuts

Maple Bacon Cronut from California Donuts


11. California Donuts (3540 W 3rd St, Los Angeles in Koreatown). This popular K-town stand is open all night and offers a pretty nice variety. It’s perfect for capping off a nice meal of Korean BBQ or a bowl of Spicy Crab Soup with a sweet treat.

Chocolate Rainbow Sprinkles Donut from Randy's Donuts

Chocolate Rainbow Sprinkles Donut from Randy’s Donuts


12. Randy’s Donuts (805 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood). Located near LAX, Randy’s is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. The 45-foot giant donut-shaped sign on its roof has appeared in countless movies and beckons all who pass by to stop and purchase some very tasty donuts. The assortment here is all traditional, including cake, raised, jelly and old fashioned varieties, as well as apple fritters and bear claws.

Strawberry Cruller from Donut Hut

Strawberry Cruller from Doughnut Hut


13. Doughnut Hut (2025 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank). Surprisingly, there are not many exceptional donut places in the Valley. But I do like Doughnut Hut in Burbank, not only for their traditional donuts (which I recommend purchasing and consuming early in the day) but for their cool retro-looking red and yellow hut. My favorite donuts here are the crumb cake and orange glazed ones.

Salted Caramel Donut from Donut Snob

Pecan, Caramel and Chocolate Donut from Donut Snob


Honorable Mention: Donut Snob (www.thedonutsnob.com). It’s not a brick and mortar shop, so it doesn’t qualify for my list. However, this company that delivers pricy but scrumptious gourmet donuts (which are similar to those at Glazed Donut Bistro) to your home or work, is worth an honorable mention. You can also buy them at Go Get Em Tiger, a popular coffee bar on Larchmont.

If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on facebook, and/or follow me on twitter at the top right of this page. You can also find me on Instagram @ConsumingLA. And please forward to your friends!

Stan's Corner Donut Shoppe on Urbanspoon
DK's Donuts & Bakery on Urbanspoon
Glazed Donut Bistro on Urbanspoon
Randy's Donuts on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Burbank, Glendora, Highland Park, Hollywood, Inglewood, Koreatown, Larchmont, Mid-City, Santa Monica, South Los Angeles, West Hollywood, West LA, Westwood

I’m Gonna Git You Osaka


In Japan, there is a saying that people in Tokyo spend all their money on shoes, people in Kyoto spend all their money on clothes, and people in Osaka spend all their money on food. As I learned first-hand on a trip last summer, Osaka is full of foodies, and is the birthplace of several of the most interesting and amazing delicacies in The Land of the Rising Sun. One of these is Okonomiyaki (pictured above), a savory pancake made with flour, eggs, vegetables such as cabbage, green onion and sweet potato, and a variety of other ingredients including pork belly, octopus, shrimp, calamari and/or cheese. These hearty, mouth-watering treats are served piping hot and usually topped with bonito flakes, Japanese mayonnaise and a thick and sweet dark sauce.

My favorite LA spot for Okonomiyaki is Doya Doya. It’s located in Torrance, which is home to a substantial Japanese population. Doya Doya is a small and unpretensious strip mall joint; great for a quick lunch or grabbing a bite after a day of sunning at nearby Manhattan or Hermosa Beach. In addition to Okonomiyaki, Doya Doya serves another great Osakan specialty — Yakisoba, which are fried noodles cooked with your choice of seafood or Berkshire pork and topped on request with a sunny side up egg. if you have a sweet tooth like I do, make sure to order a homemade cream soda and/or a scoop of sesame ice cream drizzled with a homemade sesame sauce.

Doya Doya is located at 2140 Artesia Blvd. in Torrance.

Yakisoba

Yakisoba


Homemade Cream Soda

Homemade Cream Soda


Located in a strip mall in Torrance

Located in a strip mall in Torrance



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