Category Archives: Mar Vista

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2013

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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.

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Downtown, Hollywood, Manhattan Beach, Mar Vista, Santa Monica

Batter Up

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

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

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

Shrimp Tempura

Shrimp Tempura

Tempura Soft Boiled Egg

Tempura Soft Boiled Egg

The best tempura in LA!

The best tempura in LA!

In the Mitsuwa Maretplace

In the Mitsuwa Maretplace

Hannosuke on Urbanspoon


Filed under Mar Vista

500 Days of Scones

Last year I rejected the hackneyed New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and instead I boldly declared my resolution to eat more pie. That was so 2012. As we begin 2013, I feel we are entering a new era, an era of both frightening uncertainty and cautious optimism (and I’m not just talking about the Lakers). Accordingly, my resolution this year is to eat more scones!

There is something very warming and comforting about a scone, especially when accompanied by a hot drink on a cold day. First introduced to the world by the the Scots in the early 1500’s, the scone is more popular today than ever. There are two basic kinds of scones: the “cream tea scone” and the “drop scone” (aka “griddle scone”). The cream tea scone is light and fluffy and served with clotted cream and jam during a traditional English afternoon tea. I prefer drop scones (aka griddle scones) which resemble biscuits and are crispy and slightly browned on the outside, delicate and flaky on the inside.

My favorite scones in LA come from Rockenwagner Bakery/3 Square Cafe and Bakery, helmed by Austrian-bred master chef and baker Hans Rockenwagner. Rockenwagner’s scones are insanely good and his varieties include Triberry, Ginger, 5-Grain, Chocolate Chip, Blueberry, Bacon & Cheddar and my favorite, White Chocolate Raspberry. I’m also crazy about the Republic of Pies’ Bacon Scone, which is surprisingly sweet rather than savory. Another unique scone is Short Cake’s Campfire Scone, which tastes just like a S’more and is topped with toasted marshmallow. Below is my list of the top eight scones in the city. Happy New Year!

Raspberry White Chocolate Scone

Raspberry White Chocolate Scone from Rockenwagner Bakery/3 Square Bakery and Cafe in Santa Monica, Mar Vista and Venice

Chocolate Pear Scone from Clementine in Westwood

Chocolate Pear Scone from Clementine in Westwood

Bacon Scone from Republic of Pies in North Hollywood

Bacon Scone from Republic of Pies in North Hollywood

Maple Oatmeal Scone from Sweet Butter Kitchen in Sherman Oaks

Maple Oatmeal Scone from Sweet Butter Kitchen in Sherman Oaks

Blueberry and Jam Scone from Bricks and Scone (403 N. Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles)

Blueberry and Jam Scone from Bricks and Scones in Larchmont

Campfire Scone from Short Cake in The Farmer's Market

Campfire Scone from Short Cake in The Farmer’s Market

Ginger Apricot Scone from Susina Bakery & Cafe (7122 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles)

Ginger Apricot Scone from Susina Bakery & Cafe in Mid-City

Oatmeal Brown Butter Scone from Sycamore Kitchen in Mid-City

Oatmeal Brown Butter Scone from Sycamore Kitchen in Mid-City

3 Square Café + Bakery on Urbanspoon
Susina Bakery on Urbanspoon
Röckenwagner Bakery on Urbanspoon
Sweet Butter Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Fairfax, Larchmont, Mar Vista, Mid-City, North Hollywood, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Venice, Westwood

Killer Ramen!

The best ramen in LA is served in food courts in Mar Vista and Torrance. Seriously. Of course, they are probably the nicest food courts in all of LA. Santouka Ramen is a Japan-based chain with its two LA branches each located in a Mitsuwa Marketplace, a large indoor space with Japanese supermarket, multiple food court restaurants, gourmet coffee and dessert counter, Japanese bookstore, video store and a store called “Trendy” selling Japanese tsotchkes.

The ramen at Santouka is stellar. You have your choice of four kinds of broth (salt, soy sauce, miso or spicy miso) and your choice of chasu (regular pork) or toroniku (special pork). Toroniku is braised pork from the cheek of a pig; the equivalent of toro to regular tuna in a sushi bar. My favorite ramen is the spicy miso with toroniku. The savory broth is perfectly seasoned, the noodles are firm and delicious and the toroniku, which is served on the side with vegetables for you to add to your soup, is so tender and yummy. I could eat a bowl of this ramen every day! Where to find it: Mitsuwa Marketplace, 3760 South Centinela Avenue in Los Angeles (Mar Vista; just south of Santa Monica) and 21515 South Western Avenue in Torrance.

Santouka Ramen

The toroniku (special pork) and vegetables are served on the side

Hard to believe such amazing food can be found in a food court!

Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon
Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon


Filed under Mar Vista, Torrance