Monthly Archives: December 2015

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2015

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

Gyoza from Beni Tora

Gyoza from Beni Tora


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

Peanut Brittle Brownie from Beverly Hills Brownie Company

Peanut Brittle Brownie from Beverly Hills Brownie Company


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Patty Melt from Cassell's Hamburgers

Patty Melt from Cassell’s Hamburgers


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

Milk Bread Focaccia from Orsa and Winston

Milk Bread Focaccia from Orsa and Winston


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

Black Sea Bass Sushi with Kelp from Sushi Zo

Black Sea Bass Sushi with Kelp from Sushi Zo


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

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

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


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

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly from Hanjip

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly from Hanjip


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

Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from Pok Pok LA

Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from Pok Pok LA


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

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

I Like Your Gold Grillz

Hanjip

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

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

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

Hanjip is located at 3829 Main St in Culver City.

Seafood Pancake with Curry Dipping Sauce

Seafood Pancake with Curry Dipping Sauce

Kimchi Fried Rice Sauteed in Brown Butter

Kimchi Fried Rice Sauteed in Brown Butter

Bone Marrow Corn Cheese with Shaved Parmesan and Bonito Flakes

Bone Marrow Corn Cheese with Shaved Parmesan and Bonito Flakes

Bone Marrow Luge

Bone Marrow Luge

Uni Steamed Egg with Salmon Roe

Uni Steamed Egg with Salmon Roe

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly

Marinated Kurobuta Pork Belly

Carabineros Prawns

Carabineros Prawns

Pork Neck/Jowl and Banchan

Pork Neck/Jowl and Banchan

Chopped Tomahawk

Tomahawk Steak with Foie Gras Butter

I love this place!

I love this place!

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Filed under Culver City

My Safe Space

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

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

The Independence is located at 205 Broadway in Santa Monica.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

Cool and casual

Cool and casual

A very long bar

A very long bar

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Filed under Santa Monica