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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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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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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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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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.

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



Doya Doya on Urbanspoon

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Go Big or Go Home

Chicken Barg
Everything about Raffi’s Place is big — the space it’s in, the portions, the flavors, and the wait for a table on weekends. Located a couple blocks from The Americana in the heart of Glendale, Raffi’s Place is a palace of Persian-Armenian delights. First there are the Persian stews, Gheimeh Bademjan with chunks of beef, split peas, fried onion and eggplant, and its cousin Ghormesabzi with sautéed parsley, leek and fenugreek leaves, beef chunks, kidney beans, and pierced dehydrated limes. Both are excellent and served on delectably crispy and chewy “rice crusts.”

Then there are the kabobs. It would not be an exaggeration to say they’re the best in the city. There are beef, lamb, salmon and mahi mahi kabobs, but my favorites are the Chicken Barg (pictured above) and the Chicken Koobideh (also known as luleh or ground meat kabobs), which are expertly seasoned and charbroiled to perfection along with roasted tomatoes and Anaheim peppers. With Persian food, it’s all about the rice and all entrees are served with heaps of fluffy basmati rice with saffron and your choice of either fresh herbs, barberries, lima beans or my favorite — sweet and tart black cherries. You can end big was a piece of sticky, buttery Baklava and a sweet fragrant scoop of Rosewater Ice Cream.

Raffi’s Place is located at 211 E. Broadway in Glendale.

Sabzi (a mix of fresh Basil, Onion and Radish)

Sabzi (a mix of fresh basil, onion and radish)


Flatbread and Hummus

Flatbread and Hummus


Gheimeh Bademjan (chunks of beef, split peas, fried onion and eggplant served with rice) and Ghormesabzi (mixture of sautéed herbs, consisting of parsley, leek, fenugreek leaves, cooked with beef chunks, kidney beans, and pierced dehydrated limes)

Gheimeh Bademjan
(chunks of beef, split peas, fried onion and eggplant) and Ghormesabzi
(sautéed parsley, leek and fenugreek leaves, beef chunks, kidney beans, and pierced dehydrated limes)


Chicken Koobideah Kabob with Albaloo Polo (Rice mixed with Black Cherries)

Chicken Koobideah Kabob with Albaloo Polo (rice mixed with black cherries)


Baklava

Baklava


Great for large groups

Always packed



Raffi's Place on Urbanspoon

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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 listening 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)

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 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