Category Archives: West LA

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2020

This past year was brutal for all of us, and the restaurant industry was hit especially hard. Like many of you, I have tried my best to support the eateries I love by ordering take-out or delivery. Plus I think we all need delicious comfort food now more than ever to make us feel better and provide a sense of normalcy. As in prior years, I have put together a list of my favorite ten dishes I wrote about (mostly via Instagram lately) during the past year. Here’s hoping for a happier and healthier new year!

Ube Creme Caramel (in the center) from Creme Caramel LA.

10. Ube Creme Caramel from Creme Caramel LA. This Filipino-inspired dessert shop specializes in different flavors of crème caramel. All are amazing but the Ube (purple yam) flavor is my favorite.

Bagels from Maury’s

9. Bagels from Maury’s. We are in the midst of a bagel renaissance in L.A. and these are some of the best. They are ideally consumed hot out of the oven with a scallion cream cheese schmear.

Crispy Soft Shell Crab from Rustic Spoon

8. Crispy Soft Shell Crab from Rustic Spoon. Crunchy, salty and crabilicious, this is my favorite dish at my favorite Valley Thai eatery. It’s served on a bed of Papaya Salad with a sugary Plum Sauce on the side.

Cheeseburger Potstickers from Ms Chi Cafe

7. Cheeseburger Potstickers from Ms Chi Cafe. These jumbo fusion dumplings made with Ground Chuck Roast, Diced Onion and Shredded Cheddar Cheese, and served with Tomato-bacon Jam, were a winning dish for Chef Shirley Chung on Top Chef.

Fried Clam Basket from Connie and Ted’s

6. Fried Clam Basket from Connie and Ted’s. Whole Belly Ipswich Clams are hard to find in LA., and the ones fried up at Chef Michael Cimarusti’s New England-themed restaurant are wicked good!

Bee Sting Pizza with Tomato, Soppressata, Chile, Honey and Basil from Roberta’s

5. Bee Sting Pizza from Roberta’s. Brooklyn’s most hipsterish pizza joint has expanded into Culver City, and this spicy, doughy, cheesy and slightly sweet work of culinary art is not to be missed.

Bread Pudding from B Sweet Dessert Bar

4. Bread Pudding from B Sweet Dessert Bar. In addition to her other incredible offerings, talented pastry chef Barb Batiste serves a rotating selection of 50+ hot bread puddings, each with its own accompanying sauce. My favorites are Salted Caramel, Glazed Donut, Banana Chocolate and Pumpkin.

Lobster Risotto from Melisse x Citrin

3. Lobster Risotto from Melisse x Citrin. There is no better place on the Westside to splurge for a special occasion. This fine dining establishment’s fixed price menu of gourmet delights changes every week and, when ordered to go, includes instructions on assembling each course at home. This heavenly Risotto was from their “Lobster, Lobster, Lobster” set menu.

Dulce de Leche Besito Cookies from Porto’s Bakery

2. Dulce de Leche Besito Cookies from Porto’s Bakery. “Besito” means “kiss” in Spanish and I am head-over-heels in love with these Cuban buttery cookies filled with gooey thick caramel and dusted with powdered sugar.

Uni Pizza with Santa Barbara Uni, Uni Cream Butter, Mushrooms and Truffle Oil from The Joint Eatery

Uni Pizza from The Joint Eatery. This gourmet seafood restaurant and market offers a seafood-themed pizza on Sundays. Every version of this pizza I’ve ordered there has been amazing, but the one that they occasionally make with Uni, Mushrooms and Truffle Oil is transcendent. It’s the best thing I consumed in 2020.

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Filed under Burbank, Culver City, Downey, Glendale, North Hollywood, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Silverlake, Toluca Lake, Valley Village, West Covina, West Hollywood, West LA

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s time to wax poetic on my 10 favorite things that I ate and wrote about this year. Here are the winners:

Mashed Avocado with Watermelon Radish, Sprouts, Grape Seed Oil, Red Pepper Flakes and Lemon on Pumpernickel from Alfred Coffee (it’s only served in the Silver Lake location)

10. Avocado Toast from Alfred Coffee. Although usually referred to as a vegetable, an avocado is actually a fruit. This fruit and bread combo is the best in the City.

Brown Butter Mochi from Porridge + Puffs

9. Brown Butter Mochi from Porridge and Puffs. “Aloha” is Hawaiian for hello, goodbye and love. I aloha this dessert.

Focaccia from Triple Beam Pizza (and served at Hippo)

8. Focaccia from Triple Beam Pizza. Saying that a delicious, can’t-get-enough-of-it food is “like crack” is the most overused expression in food bloggerdom. This focaccia bread is like heroin.

Sweet Corn Cappellacci with Funghi Misti and Fresh Thyme from Hippo

7. Sweet Corn Cappellacci from Hippo. Q: What does corn say when it receives a compliment? A: Aw, shucks. The Corn Cappellacci at Hippo is much better than this joke.

Iceberg Salad with Grilled Thick Cut Smoke Bacon and Danish Blue Cheese from APL

6. Iceberg Salad from APL. This is the first time a salad has made my annual list. But in all fairness, it’s basically a giant, thick slice of smoked bacon and gobs of incredible Danish blue cheese, accompanied by some lettuce.

Fried Chicken from Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

4 (tie). Fried Chicken from Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. Three words: Finger. Lickin’. Great.

Smokey Frid Chicken from Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

4. (tie). Smokey Fried Chicken from Plan Check Kitchen + Bar. Also finger lickin’ great.

Morning Bun from Tartine Sycamore

3. Morning Bun from Tartine Sycamore. I agree with Ellen Degeneres who said “I don’t think I really need buns of steel; I’d be happy with buns of cinnamon.” While Tartine Manufactory closed this month, these awesome buns of cinnamon, caramelized sugar and orange zest can still be found in LA at sister restaurant Tartine Sycamore.

Pastrami Reuben from Freedman’s

2. Pastrami Rueben from Freedman’s. I love Ruebens so much that I married one (although technically my wife’s maiden name is spelled Rubin). This Pastrami Rueben is not as good as my wife, but is pretty awesome nonetheless.

Dry Aged Tomahawk Chop from APL

1 . Dry Aged Tomahawk Chop from APL. Smells like foie gras. Tastes like truffles. Costs a fortune but worth every penny. It’s the best thing that I consumed and wrote about in 2019.

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Filed under Downtown, Echo Park, Highland Park, HIstoric Filipino Town, Hollywood, Mid-City, Santa Monica, Silverlake, West LA

10 Best Fried Chicken Joints in LA


There is no better comfort food than fried chicken. Crispy and unctuous on the outside and hot and juicy on the inside, it makes you forget your troubles with every bite.

However, all fried chicken is not created equal. In our sprawling metropolis, there are several blue-ribbon eateries producing truly exceptional finger-lickin’-goodness that stands out from the rest. After conducting years of extensive research on the topic, here are my top 10 favorites:

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

#1 (tie) Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken (1262 Crenshaw Blvd in Mid-City Los Angeles, 509 S Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, and 2580 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach). Gus’s, a small chain originating in Tennesee, serves Memphis-style spicy fried chicken which is perfect in every way. Served atop a slice of white bread, these insanely amazing drumsticks, wings, thighs and breasts are accompanied by traditional Southern sides such as mac n cheese, greens and baked beans.

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

#1 (tie) Plan Check Kitchen + Bar (1800 Sawtelle Blvd in West LA, 351 N Fairfax Ave in Mid-City LA, 1401 Ocean Ave #104 in Santa Monica, and 1111 Wilshire Blvd in the Westlake district adjacent to Downtown). While Gus’s fried chicken is a traditional Southern type, the other top winner on my list, the Smokey Fried Chicken at Plan Check, is the opposite. It’s an elevated gourmet version of the dish marinated in buttermilk brine, fried in beef tallow and severed with Smoked Milk Gravy, Yam Preserves and Spicy Pickled Okra. It’s my favorite dish on the menu and real show-stopper.

Howlin’ Ray’s

#3 Howlin’ Ray’s (727 N Broadway #128, Los Angeles in Chinatown/Downtown). Located amid the souvenir shops and Chinese herb merchants in the Far East Plaza in Chinatown, Howlin’ Rays serves Nashville-style Hot Chicken. This place is so popular — and so incredibly good — that the wait in line can often take two hours or more. I don’t love waiting in lines, but this place is definitely worth it.

OB Bear

#4 OB Bear (3002 W 7th St, Los Angeles in Koreatown). This tavern in K-town serves the most awesome Korean fried chicken. Enjoy it with pickled radish, cabbage salad, a seafood leek pancake and a couple of nice cold Korean beers.

Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken

#5 Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken (9537 Culver Blvd, Culver City). This Culver City mainstay serves expertly cooked and super yummy Southern-style fried chicken made with high-end ingredients. I order mine with biscuits, honey, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Dave’s Hot Chicken

#5 Dave’s Hot Chicken (970 N Western Ave, Los Angeles in East Hollywood). Spice is the name of the game at Dave’s and if you love your chicken eye-tearing, lip-burning, brow-sweating spicy, then this is the place for you. But even if you wimp out and order your bird mild, you will be impressed with the deliciously seasoned Nashville-style chicken.

Golden Bird

#7 Golden Bird (8300 S Western Ave in Inglewood, 2847 Crenshaw Blvd in West Adams, and 13501 S Avalon Blvd in Gardena). This Southern fried chicken chain in South LA is a sentimental favorite of many Angelenos and has been serving delicious fried chicken and soul food sides and desserts (including Sweet Potato Pie and 7-Up Cake!) since 1953. The mouth-watering batter here reminds me of my personal childhood favorite, Pioneer Chicken.

Pikunico

#8 Pikunico (767 S Alameda St Suite 122, Los Angeles in Downtown). Newly opened in the uber-hot Row DTLA complex, Pikunico serves excellent gourmet Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) which is free range, gluten-free and made with locally sources ingredients. It’s served with house-made assorted pickles, three gourmet sauces (Daikon Ponzu Oroshi, Lemon Aioli, and Parsley Sesame Sauce) and your choice of Ginger Onigiri or Fingerling Fries.

Dinah’s Family Restaurant

#9 Dinah’s Family Restaurant (6521 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles in Westchester). This old school diner is an LA institution famous for their fried chicken (as well as their giant German pancakes). It’s perfect for a meal of fried chicken and waffles or as your first stop after landing at nearby LAX.

Anzu Japanese Gourmet

#10 Anzu Japanese Gourmet (11270 La Grange Ave in West LA) Even if you are a frequent visitor to the Japanese restaurants and shops on Sawtelle, you may not be aware of Anzu. Located just off of the main drag, it’s simply a tiny window with very limited seating outside where you can purchase some of the best Japanese fried chicken in the city.

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Filed under Burbank, Chinatown, Culver City, Downtown, East Hollywood, Gardena, Inglewood, Koreatown, Long Beach, Mid-City, Santa Monica, West Adams, West LA, Westchester, Westlake

Kinder, Gentler Sushi

Sashimi

Sasabune was one of my first great sushi loves. Originally located in a small house on Sawtelle, Sasabune served the freshest and tastiest raw fish west of the 405. Its warm-rice sushi was similar to the sushi served in the Valley by legendary “Sushi Nazi” Kazunori Nozawa (who trained Sasabune’s chef) and, like Sushi Nozawa, they wouldn’t make California Rolls or Spicy Tuna. But I’ve never witnessed customers getting kicked out of Sasabune like they did at Sushi Nozawa for not following the rules. It was the kinder, gentler Nozawa.

Sasabune eventually moved to a cavernous space in Brentwood and then to smaller digs down the street, but seemed to lose a little of its magic with each of those moves. But with an additional location in Beverly Hills presided over by sushi master Ei Hiroyoshi, Sasabune bounced back to the top. The Beverly Hills branch serves insanely good sushi and one of the best omakase meals in the city.

Sushi Sasabune is located at 9162 W Olympic Blvd in Beverly Hills and 11917 Wilshire Blvd in Brentwood. A third LA location just opened in Glendale at 101 N Brand Blvd.

Cucumber and Seaweed Salad

Cucumber and Seaweed Salad

Maguro and Toro

Maguro and Toro Sushi

Mussel with Japanese Mayo

Mussel with Japanese Mayo

Oyster

Oyster

Mussel with Garlic Butter and Seaweed

Mussel with Garlic Butter and Seaweed

Ikura (Salmon Roe) and Uni (Sea Urchin) Sushi

Ikura (Salmon Roe) and Uni (Sea Urchin) Sushi

Fried Shrimp

Fried Shrimp

Butterfish

Butterfish Sushi

Lychee Sorbet

Lychee Sorbet

Head Sushi Genius Ei Hiroyoshi

Sushi Master Ei Hiroyoshi

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Glendale, West LA

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