Manufacturing Awesomeness

Tartine in San Francisco is the best bakery in the country and for over two long years I have eagerly awaited the opening of Tartine’s first LA venture. It has finally arrived.

The Manufactory is a collaboration between the Tartine folks (James Beard Award winners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson) and nationally acclaimed Phoenix pizza chef Chris Bianco. It’s a giant industrial chic complex that houses a production bakery, a coffee roastery, a specialty food market, a coffee and ice cream window, a “Market Bar” that features Chris Bianco’s flatbreads, and an amazing restaurant called Tartine Bianco. The whole magilla is housed in ROW DTLA, the uber cool and newly gentrified shopping and restaurant complex in the warehouses of LA’s historic Downtown produce market.

Not surprisingly, the seasonal menu of Tartine Bianco centers around Tartine’s insanely good bread. The Pork (Rillette) and Pickle Toast with Mustard and Radish (pictured above) and the Chicken Liver Toast with Kumquat and Blood Orange are absolute must-haves. So is one or more of the the Smørrebrøds, Danish-style open-face sandwiches on Rye Bread. The Uni Smørrebrød with Kohlrabi, Mustard Seed and Lardo is particularly phenomenal.

If you have room after all those carbs, order the Sweetbreads with Crispy Red Rice, Yam, Fermented Chili Amaranth and Mustard Frill, as well as the Farro & Chickory Salad with Winter Squash and Tahini Yogurt. I also recommend washing your glutinous feast down with one of Tartine Biano’s creative cocktails or a Young Ginger Kombucha with Grapefruit and Star Anise, which is made in The Manufactory’s own basement fermentation room.

The Manufactory and its Tartine Bianco restaurant are located in ROW DTLA at 757 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles (Downtown).

Country Bread and Warm Ricotta with Black Pepper and Olive Oil
Sesame Bread and Eggplant Dip with Fermented Red Pepper
Fermented Vegetables
Uni Smørrebrød with Kohlrabi, Mustard Seed and Lardo
Avocado Smørrebrød with Jalapeño, Cilantro and Pumpkin Seeds
Chicken Liver Toast with Kumquat and Blood Orange
Puntarelle Salad with with Date, Stilton, Olives, Allium and Sherry Vinaigrette
Farro & Chickory Salad with Winter Squash and Tahini Yogurt
Sweetbreads with Crispy Red Rice, Yam, Fermented Chili Amaranth and Mustard Frill
Rotisserie Chicken with Black Garlic Spaetzle, Bok Choy and Chicken Jus
Spiced Date Cake with Brandy Toffee Sauce and Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream
Ginger Tart with Buttermilk, Lemon Marshmallow and Meringue Kisses
Kale and Coriander Seed “Margarita” with Tequila Blanco, Chareau, Cilantro, Mint, Chili Poblano and Ancho Reyes Verde
Young Ginger Kombucha with Grapefruit and Star Anise
Fun, bustling indsutrial chic space in ROW DTLA

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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.


#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

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2018

It’s that time of year for blogs to make predictions, present year-end wrap-ups and bestow awards. In keeping with the custom, here’s my annual list of the ten best things I ate and wrote about during the past year.

Deep Fried Fluffer Nutter with Fresh Bananas from Black Market Liquor Bar

10. Deep Fried Fluffer Nutter with Fresh Bananas from Black Market Liquor Bar. More chefs need to find ways to incorporate marshmallow fluff into their food.

Hamachi in Monochrome, Sweet Pea in Pastel from Dialogue

9. Hamachi in Monochrome, Sweet Pea in Pastel from Dialouge. Three words: Off. The. Hook.

Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano from Felix

8. Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano from Felix. Q: What do you call a fake noodle? A: An impasta. The Pappardelle at Felix is incredible and deserves better than that joke.

Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Black Garlic Tea, Wheat Grass and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp from Kali

7. Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Black Garlic Tea, Wheat Grass and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp from Kali. Fermented garlic tea and wheat grass aren’t ingredients that usually come to mind when reminiscing about the best things you’ve eaten during the past year. Surprise!

Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies from Pizzeria Mozza/Chi Spacca

6. Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies from Pizzeria Mozza/Chi Spacca. Fun fact: the word “Budino” originally referred to a type of medieval sausage. Now it’s just the Italian word for what we Americans call pudding.

Grilled Heritage Pork in Koji, Pickled Daikon and Leek from Shibumi

5. Grilled Heritage Pork in Koji, Pickled Daikon and Leek from Shibumi. Those familiar with this blog knew there was going to be something Japanese on this list and also something on this list which is primarily pork. The exciting news this year is that these two things are combined!

Beef & Bone Marrow Pie from Chi Spacca

4. Beef & Bone Marrow Pie from Chi Spacca. Think about the best pot pie you’ve ever eaten and how much you enjoyed it. Now multiply that feeling by ten.

Momotaro Tomato with Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong and Creme Fraiche from Here’s Looking at You

3. Momotaro Tomato with Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong and Creme Fraiche from Here’s Looking at You. A lot of people don’t know that a tomato is actually not a vegetable, but a fruit. This is the best fruit dish in LA.

Peanut Butter Meringue Pie from Pie ‘n Burger

2. Peanut Butter Meringue Pie from Pie ‘n Burger. I have nothing against apple, cherry or pumpkin, but it’s amazing to me that peanut butter is not the most popular pie flavor.

Foie Gras Halva with Creamy Pâté, Date Paste, Black Sesame and Buckwheat Loaf from Bavel

1. Foie Gras Halva with Creamy Pâté, Date Paste, Black Sesame and Buckwheat Loaf from Bavel. This dish combines the flavors of two of my favorite things: fatty goose liver and the the candy you buy at the cashier counter when you leave a Jewish deli. It’s the best thing I consumed and wrote about in 2018.

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Filed under Downtown, Hollywood, Koreatown, Mid-City, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Studio City, Venice

The Post Where I Use a Jewish Holiday Song to Describe a Pork Chop

Every Passover, we Jews sing a thousand-year-old song called “Dayenu,” which roughly translates to “It Would Have Been Enough.” It’s a song of appreciation for all the many gifts granted to us by God, and we sing that just one of such gifts alone would have been enough. Sorry Rabbi, but whenever I dine at Chi Spacca, I think of this song.

Chi Spacca is an upscale Italian steakhouse and their charcuterie plate (called Affettati Misti) is the best in town. All the meats (often including coppa, salami, speck, pancetta and/or lardo) are cured in-house and served with butcher’s pâté and trotter fritti. I recommend dining at Chi Spacca for this salumi board alone. However, my love for the Affettati Misti is nothing compared to my obsessive passion for the Focaccia di Recco. This cripy-edged flatbread is stuffed with salted and fermented mozzarella and baked and served in a special pan imported from Piedmont, Italy. It’s unbelievably amazing.

But I’m just getting started here folks. Chi Spacca serves a Beef and Bone Marrow Pie that is to die for. It’s a rich, golden-crusted beef pot pie with a baked marrow bone coming out of the top. If you go to Chi Spacca and just have the charcuterie, focaccia and pot pie, it would be one your best meals ever. But you would be sorely missing out if you didn’t also get the Tomahawk Pork Chop. This giant chop is rubbed with fennel pollen and then grilled to perfection. It’s easily one of the best pieces of meat I have ever consumed.

And even if you ordered none of the above, a trip to Chi Spacca would be well worth it if you just ordered the Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies, a dessert which Chi SPACCA shares with its sister restaurants Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza. This pudding is one of my favorite desserts in the City. Thank you Chi Spacca. DAYENU!

Chi Spacca is located at 6610 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles (on the border between Hollywood and Hancock Park).

Toasted Pane Bianco with Beillevaire Butter

Warm Medjool Dates

Affettati Misti

Razor Clams

Focaccia di Recco

Insalata Primavera with Artichokes, Fennel, Asparagus, Hearts of Palm, Olio Nuovo and Pecorino Toscano

Tomahawk Pork Chop

Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies

It’s an intimate restaurant with an open kitchen.

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Filed under Hancock Park, Hollywood, Mid-City

Consuming Chicago

Chicago is known for horrible weather, a population of friendly, unpretentious sports-loving folks and some of the best restaurants in the country. I recently spent five glorious, gluttonous days there. Together with my good pal Sandy, who directs TV shows in the Windy City and is a regular on the local foodie circuit, we went on an epic food adventure. Thankfully, I had gone on a diet for a month as preparation for the damage I would do on this short trip. Here are the rapacious details:

Chicago Mix at Nuts on Clark

Welcome to The Second City: Nuts on Clark Upon arriving at O’Hare Airport, I smell something amazing. My nose led me to an airport shop right outside my arrival gate that sells gourmet popcorn, a Chicago favorite, including this “Chicago Mix” of incredible savory Cheese Corn and sweet Caramel Corn (the latter of which is hidden below the Cheese Corn in the photo). It was the perfect way to kick off my food trip.

Mentaiko Kimchi Udon with Spicy Cod Roe, Kimchi and Seaweed from Mott Street

Meal #1: Mott Street This is Sandy’s favorite restaurant in Chicago and I could see why. The restaurant has awesome Asian-influenced cuisine, super-tasty cocktails and the coolest vibe in town.

“The Fat Rice” at Fat Rice

Meal #2: Fat Rice I loved the global-inspired Macanese cuisine at this uber cool eatery in Chi-town’s Logan Square Neighborhood. It has its own bakery next door for Portuguese Egg Tarts and Taro Morning Buns.

Hearts of Palm in Five Sections (Vanilla Pudding, Fava Beans, Bulgur Salad, Prune Purée and Black Truffle) at Next

Meal #3: Next I have been wanting to go to Chef Grant Achutz’s restaurant Next since it opened seven years ago and I finally go the chance on this trip. The menu, cuisine and dining experience at Next completely changes every four months. The menu while I was there was a retrospective on the first five years of Alinea, Achutz’s ever evolving and groundbreaking restaurant which I dined at the next night, providing an interesting contrast.

Do-Rite Donuts

Snack Time: Do-Rite Donuts After having viewed chef and owner Jeff Mahin’s mouthwatering donut porn on instagram for many years, I knew I had to include Do-Rite Donuts in my itinerary. I was not disappointed.

Cheeseburger from Au Cheval

Meal #4: Au Cheval This small hipster diner has been touted frequently for having the best cheeseburger in America. Of course I ordered one and added the optional thick-cut bacon and a fried egg. I was massively impressed.

Molecular Gastronomy Magic at Alinea

Meal #5: Alinea Grant Achutz’s renowned restaurant is one of the best in the world and the first place I made a reservation at when I booked my trip. It’s molecular gastronomy mixed with magic, insanely fun and creative, and a once in a lifetime experience. I was blown away.

Deep Dish Pizza with Sausage, Mushroom and Jalapeños at Pequods Pizza

Meal #6: Pequods Pizza I did a ton of research before selecting which pizza joint I would visit in a city which is famous for its thick crust pies, and I think I chose well. The individual pies at Pequods are baked to order and we waited a crazy long time to get our food, but the wait for these amazing culinary feats was worth it. The best part of the pizza was the caramelized cheese on the side of the crust.

Tomato and Onion Salad at Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse

Meal #7: Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse Sandy and I went old school at this iconic joint in the “Viagra Triangle” neighborhood. Our massive steaks did not photograph as well as they tasted so I’m posting this Tomato and Onion Salad.

Hot Dog at Portillo’s

Meal #8: Portillo’s Chicago-style hot dogs are another must-have for any visit to the Windy City. The ones at this famous and cavernous restaurant are perfect. I also consumed one of their famous Italian Beef sandwiches, as well as a vanilla frozen custard.

Wedding Rings Pasta with Pecorino, Clams, Meatballs, and Lemon at Giant

Meal #9: Giant Having dined at mostly Chicago classics during this trip, I wanted to visit one of the newer hotspots. Giant impressed me with with its fantastic New American Cuisine and amazing pasta dishes.

La Quercia Prosciutto with Multigrain Bread and Farm Butter at Publican Tavern

Meal #10: Publican Tavern My biggest regret leaving Chicago was that I could not squeeze in a dinner at The Publican. Fortuitously, on my way home, I discovered an O’Hare Airport location of the restaurant, where I enjoyed not only some damn fine charcuterie, but also the best spicy pork rinds I have ever consumed.

Wrigley Field

Airport send-off

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