Delmy You Love Me

Delmy Pupusas
Of the eighty or so weekly farmers markets in Los Angeles County, the biggest and best is the one that pops up every Sunday in Hollywood. Branching out in all directions from the intersection of Vine and Ivar, the Hollywood Farmers Market is the perfect place to spend an hour shopping for organic persimmons and sampling artisan goat cheese while listening to a heavily tatted hipster discuss fair trade co-ops with a dreadlocked neo-hippie. Musicians are scattered throughout, including a bluegrass band, a reggae drummer, a guy that makes music with rubber bands, and my favorite local hot jazz combo, The California Feetwarmers.

The prepared food section has a lot of great choices, but Delmy Pupusas is my favorite. Pupusas are a popular street food in El Salvador. They’re thick round corn cakes that are stuffed with a variety of fillings such as cheese, vegetables, beans, shrimp, chicken and chorizo, and cooked on a griddle until golden brown. Delmy serves these hot stuffed Salvadoran treats with homemade salasa, a spicy and vinegary cabbage relish called curtido, guacamole and some fresh crema. A couple pupusas make a nice hearty lunch and are best washed down with Delmy’s homemade horchata or agua fresca, which comes in several flavors including watermelon, strawberry, mango and raspberry. For dessert, I recommend an order of Delmy’s fried plantains served with a side of black beans and fresh crema. Muy delicioso!

Delmy Pupusas can be found at the Hollywood Farmers Market every Sunday morning and early afternoon and at several other farmers markets including Torrance, Downtown in Pershing Square, Atwater Village, Echo Park and Silverlake.

Fried Plantains with Black Beans and Crema

Fried Plantains with Black Beans and Crema


Aguas Frescas

Aguas Frescas


Every Sunday morning in the Hollywood Farmers Market

Every Sunday morning in the Hollywood Farmers Market


Delmy

Delmy


Enjoy your pupusas with some live music.

Enjoy your pupusas with some live music.


My favorite farmers market

My favorite farmers market

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Filed under Atwater Village, Downtown, Echo Park, Hollywood, Silverlake, Torrance

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

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Filed under Mar Vista

Animal Magnetism

Grilled Quail
My recommendation list for food lovers visiting our fair city changes all the time, but almost always includes Animal. Hidden among the Jewish bakeries and hip hop clothing stores of Fairfax Avenue, Animal is the jewel of the LA foodie scene. It’s a gastronomic temple of carnivorous delights; an exotic pageant of nose-to-tail creative culinary brilliance; an adventure.

It’s helmed by genius chef duo Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, who have two other amazing eateries in LA — Son of a Gun and Trois Mec. The interior is small, dimly lit and packed every night with a boisterous mix of hipsters, celebrities, Hollywood “suits” and hardcore foodies. Almost everything on Animal’s ever-changing menu of small plates is phenomenal. Prior to the California foie gras ban, my favorite dish was the sweet and savory Foie Gras on a Biscuit with Maple Sausage Gravy. I still mourn its premature demise.

Other longtime favorites include the deliciously unctuous Poutine with Oxtail Gravy and Cheddar, the crispy and light Kampachi Tostada and Animal’s version of chip ‘n dip: Spicy Beef Tendon Chip with Charred Onion Pho Dip. Animal’s perfectly seasoned and seared Iberico Pork Secreto is truly spectacular and one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. For dessert, the Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche and the Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar with Salt & Pepper Ice Cream are not to be missed.

Animal is located at 435 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles (Mid-City).

Veal Tongue, West Indian Gherkin, Steelhead Roe, Black Mustard

Veal Tongue, West Indian Gherkin, Steelhead Roe, Black Mustard


Kampachi Tostada, Herbs, Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, Peanut

Kampachi Tostada, Herbs, Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, Peanut


Spicy Beef Tendon Chip with Charred Onion Pho Dip

Spicy Beef Tendon Chip with Charred Onion Pho Dip


Santa Barbara Uni, Heirloom Cucumbers, Za'atar, Fried Cheese, HB Egg

Santa Barbara Uni, Heirloom Cucumbers, Za’atar, Fried Cheese, HB Egg


Duck Breast, Charred Cabbage, Liptauer, Mustard

Duck Breast, Charred Cabbage, Liptauer, Mustard


Roasted Peaches, Hazelnut, Buttermilk, Currants, Prosciutto di Parma

Roasted Peaches, Hazelnut, Buttermilk, Currants, Prosciutto di Parma


Shrimp & Rabbit Sausage Spring Roll, Minutina, Green Curry

Shrimp & Rabbit Sausage Spring Roll, Minutina, Green Curry


Charred Octopus, Black Sriracha, Finger Lime, Gooseberry

Charred Octopus, Black Sriracha, Finger Lime, Gooseberry


Mexican Street Corn, Epazote, Serrano, Parmesan

Mexican Street Corn, Epazote, Serrano, Parmesan


Sweetbread, Corn, Fennel, Crema, Raymundo's Tomatillo Salsa

Sweetbread, Corn, Fennel, Crema, Raymundo’s Tomatillo Salsa


Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar

Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar


Santa Barbara Rock Crab, Shallots, Verjus, Avgolemono, Sourdough

Santa Barbara Rock Crab, Shallots, Verjus, Avgolemono, Sourdough


16oz. Iberico Pork Secreto, Marinated Onion, Peruvian Mint, Yuca

16oz. Iberico Pork Secreto, Marinated Onion, Peruvian Mint, Yuca


RIP. Foie Gras, Biscuit, Maple Sausage Gravy

RIP. Foie Gras, Biscuit, Maple Sausage Gravy


Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche

Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche


Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar with S&P Ice Cream

Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar with Salt & Pepper Ice Cream


Blueberry, Frozen Brown Sugar Crumble, Yogurt, Bay Leaf Ice Cream

Blueberry, Frozen Brown Sugar Crumble, Yogurt, Bay Leaf Ice Cream


Clandestinely located among the Jewish delis and hip hop shops on Fairfax

Clandestinely located among the Jewish delis and hip hop shops on Fairfax



Animal on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Fairfax, Mid-City

Lovely Rita

Rita's Water Ice
Although Autumn officially starts this weekend, the hot summer weather does not appear to be going away any time soon. So this week I have a recommendation for a cool way to cool off. Rita’s, which has been a mandatory stop on my food itinerary whenever I visit Philadelphia, has now expanded to Los Angeles, bringing two kinds of frozen treats that were previously hard to find here.

The first is Water Ice aka Italian Ice. Denser than shaved ice and smoother than a snow cone, this sweet, slushy and sugary dessert is served in a cup and consumed with a spoon. Rita’s offers many rotating flavors, including Root Beer, Blue Raspberry, Cotton Candy, Juicy Pear, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Swedish Fish and Pineapple. They also usually have a flavor or two of “Cream Ice,” a dairy version of Water Ice in flavors such as Pumpkin Pie and Red Velvet Cake.

The other specialty of Rita’s is Frozen Custard. It’s similar to soft serve ice cream but denser and richer since it’s made with egg yolks. Rita’s serves both Vanilla and Chocolate Frozen Custard and sometimes other varieties such as Coffee or Strawberry. If you can’t decide between the Water Ice and Frozen Custard, do what I do and have both. Rita’s Gelati is a delicious concoction made with a bottom layer of Frozen Custard, a middle layer of Water Ice, and a topping of more Frozen Custard. It’s well worth the attendant risks of brain freeze and sugar coma.

Rita’s is located at 2307 Main Street in Santa Monica, 403 N. Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, and 468 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge.

Gelati with Chocolate Peanut Butter Water Ice and Vanilla Frozen Custard

Gelati with Chocolate Peanut Butter Water Ice and Vanilla Frozen Custard


Cotton Candy Water Ice

Cotton Candy Water Ice


Dancing Water Ice

Dancing Water Ice

One of the only places to get authentic frozen custard in LA

One of the only places to get frozen custard in LA





Rita's on Urbanspoon
Rita's Italian Ice on Urbanspoon

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Filed under La Canada, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica

ROC My World

ROC Soup Dumplings
Few things bring me as much joy as dumplings. I like to think of them as little wrapped presents that I open in my mouth. Well-crafted Chinese dumplings are especially nice gifts, the kind that I buy for myself after a particularly grueling work week or as a reward for doing my best to navigate the chutes and ladders of modern life. Sometime I gift dumplings to myself for no special reason at all, and occasionally I will even purchase them for others.

The best place for Chinese Dumplings is the San Gabriel Valley, but when I don’t have time to schlep out that far, I usually go to ROC Kitchen in West LA’s Asian food mecca known as “Little Osaka.” ROC opened last December and, despite a recent expansion into the space next door, there is almost always a wait for a table. The decor is modern and minimalist, with the focus, as it should be, on the food.

A meal at ROC should properly start with Xiao Long Bao aka Shanghai Soup Dumplings; little doughy sacks of broth and meat that explode in your mouth as you eat them whole. After that, I recommend moving on to the Crispy Dumplings with Pork and Shrimp — eight fried dumplings that have been fused together to form a crispy pancake of sorts, followed by some fluffy Steamed Pork Buns. Take a brief respite from the carbs and try the Three Cups Chicken with Fresh Chilies, Thai Basil & Roasted Garlic or the Pepper Beef. Both are excellent. For dessert, you can resume carbo-loading with sweet red bean or taro dumplings.

ROC Kitchen is located at 2049 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles (in West LA).

Xiao Long Bao aka Shanghai Soup Dumplings

Xiao Long Bao aka Shanghai Soup Dumplings


Scallion Pancake with Gingered Soy Dipping Sauce

Scallion Pancake with Gingered Soy Dipping Sauce


Pickled Szechuan Cucumbers

Pickled Szechuan Cucumbers


Steamed Pork Bun

Steamed Pork Bun


Beef Rolls

Beef Rolls


Crispy Dumplings with Pork and Shrimp

Crispy Dumplings with Pork and Shrimp


Pan Fried Pork Dumplings

Pan Fried Pork Dumplings


ROC Rice Cake with Chicken, Napa Cabbage & Spinach

ROC Rice Cake with Chicken, Napa Cabbage & Spinach


Three Cups Chicken with Fresh Chilies, Thai Basil & Roasted Garlic

Three Cups Chicken with Fresh Chilies, Thai Basil & Roasted Garlic


Pepper Beef

Pepper Beef


A dumpling house for Westsiders

A dumpling house for Westsiders



ROC Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Filed under West LA

Land of the Rising Sun

Golden Palace
Although I travel a lot, I rarely write about my food adventures outside of Los Angeles. However, I recently returned from an amazing first-time trip to Japan and I feel compelled to share. My family and I visited bustling and futuristic Tokyo, charming and spiritual Kyoto and, because of its reputation as a foodie haven, Osaka. In each of these places, the food was absolutely incredible. We were there for 2 1/2 weeks. If we had been there any longer, I would probably start looking like one of the sumo wrestlers pictured below. Here are the 14 best things (in no particular order) that I consumed in the Land of the Rising Sun:

Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo

Sushi from Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo


1. Sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro This sushi bar in the Ginza subway station is so renowned, a documentary was made last year about it and its octogenarian owner/chef called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Jiro served me some of the best raw fish I’ve ever eaten.

Okonomiyaki in Osaka

Okonomiyaki in Osaka


2. Okonomiyaki in Osaka A specialty of Osaka, this is a savory pancake filled with things like pork, shrimp and sweet potato, and topped with a special sauce. They’re typically served on built-in tabletop griddles and everyone at the table is given their own little spatula to cut off pieces.

Tsukemen from Rokurinsha in Tokyo

Tsukemen from Rokurinsha in Tokyo


3. Tsukemen at Rokurinsha Thick chewy noodles are served in one bowl, with a complex and concentrated ramen broth served in a companion bowl for dipping. This kind of “dip ramen” is called “tsukemen” and the best is served at Rokurinsha, a restaurant so popular that it had to change locations when its neighbors complained about the hordes of people (sometimes in excess of 300) constantly lining up outside to eat at their tiny counter.

Molecular Gastronomy from Narisawa in Tokyo

Molecular Gastronomy from Narisawa in Tokyo


4. Molecular Gastronomy at Narisawa This was our one fine dining meal in Japan and it did not disappoint. The restaurant ranks number one this year in San Pellegrino’s list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. The cuisine is an über-inventive combination of classical French cooking, local Japanese luxury ingredients and a generous dose of molecular gastronomy. The 12 course meal was entitled “Evolve with the Forest” and included bread prepared and baked right at our table, Hida beef coated in carbonized leek, and other unusual and drop-dead gorgeous dishes that tasted amazing.

Matsusaka Beef from Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M

Matsusaka Beef from Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M


5. Matsusaka Beef at Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M Forget Kobe beef. Matsusaka beef is even better and I had it for the first time in Osaka. The flavor and texture of the meat blew me away. To get this quality of beef, the cattle are raised on quiet farms, fed beer, massaged regularly and listen to soothing music. We cooked the beef on a little charcoal grill on our table, similar to LA’s own amazing Yakiniku restaurant, Totoraku (aka The Secret Japanese Beef Restaurant).

Ramen in Crab Broth from Kanisenmon Keisuke

Ramen in Crab Broth from Kanisenmon Keisuke


6. Ramen at Kanisenmon Keisuke The largest subway/train station in Tokyo has a “Ramen Street” where eight of Tokyo’s top ramen chefs were invited to open up outposts of their famous restaurants. One of the best is Kanisenmon Keisuke, which makes its most popular ramen with miso crab broth and serves it in bowls in the shape of Hokkaido, Japan’s Northernmost island.

Tempura from Shinjuku Tsunahachi

Tempura from Tsunahachi


7. Tempura at Tsunahachi The tempura in Japan is insanely good and nothing like the tempura we have here in Los Angeles. Some tempura houses in Japan have even received Michelin stars. The best tempura I had was at a little restaurant called Tsunahachi in the neon-signed shopping mecca of Shinjuku.

Tofu Kaiseki from Tosuiro Kiyamachi in Kyoto

Tofu Kaiseki at Tosuiro Kiyamachi in Kyoto


8. Tofu Kaiseki at Tosuiro Kiyamachi The food scene in Kyoto is all about kaiseki, artistic multi-course meals of small beautiful plates. At Tosuiro Kiyamachi, we had a spectacular kaiseki meal composed of all tofu dishes while sitting on a beautiful deck overlooking the Kamogawa River.

Yakitori from Kokekokko in Tokyo

Yakitori at Kokekokko in Tokyo


9. Yakitori at Kokekokko Perfectly seasoned and grilled skewers of chicken breast, thigh, heart, liver and gizzard, as well as quail eggs, were the focus of this yakitori joint that we stumbled upon in Tokyo. Since no one working there spoke a word of English, I was unable to ascertain whether there was a relationship between this restaurant and the Kokekokko in Little Tokyo here in Los Angeles.

Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu Maisen Tokyu-Toyoko

Tonkatsu at Maisen Tonkatsu


10. Tonkatsu at Maisen Tonkatsu One of the most popular dishes in Japan is fried pork cutlet called tonkatsu. The best tonkatsu I had was at a restaurant on the top floor of the Tokyu department store called Maisen Tonkatsu. It was crispy and juicy, was made from high-end Okita Kurobuta pork loin, and melted in my mouth.

"Burnt-style" Miso Ramen at Gogyu in Tokyo

“Burnt-style” Miso Ramen at Gogyu in Tokyo


11. Burnt-style Miso Ramen at Gogyu The Japanese love ramen and there are so many creative versions of the dish, especially in Tokyo. One of my favorites was at Gogyo, where the ramen is made with dark seared miso.

Tokoyaki from a street stand in the Dotonburi region of Osaka

Tokoyaki from a street stand in the Dotonburi region of Osaka


12. Takoyaki in Osaka Takoyaki (aka Octopus Balls) are dumplings made of a delicious batter, pieces of diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger and green onion. They are cooked in stalls on the street using special pans and then doused with sauce and bonito flakes. To eat them, you put each piping hot dumpling in your mouth whole using a couple long toothpicks.

Taiyaki from a department store food hall in Kyoto

Taiyaki from a department store food hall in Kyoto


13. Taiyaki Some of the best places in Japan to get food are the elaborate and extensive food halls in the basements of big department stores. One of my favorite treats there are these fish-shaped hot cakes which are prepared fresh right in front of you and filled with custard or sweet red beans.

Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi Ice Cream at Tokyo Station


14. Mochi Ice Cream at Tokyo Station These ice cream treats were truly spectacular. Varieties included Apple Pie, Sweet Potato, Custard Pudding, Caramel Macchiato and Raspberry Mille Feuille. For each piece, the ice cream had one flavor, the mochi casing had another and there was a liquid filling inside the ice cream such as caramel or condensed milk.

Sumo!

Sumo!


Geisha!

Geisha!


Jiro!

Jiro!


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Filed under Outside Los Angeles

A Hot Mess

The Boiling Crab
The Boiling Crab feels like a guilty pleasure, not because it’s unhealthy, but because it’s insanely messy. Here’s how it works: You drive to Koreatown, Alhambra or Rowland Heights and wait for an hour or two because this is a popular restaurant chain that doesn’t take reservations. When you’re finally seated, you’re given a bib along with your menu.

Order a cold beer and a couple appetizers. The spicy gumbo and the fried oysters are a good call. But the main attraction here is the peel ’em and eat ’em shrimp, four different kinds of crab, crawfish and lobster, all of which are ordered by the pound and placed in clear plastic bags with your choice of seasoning (Rajun Cajun, Garlic Butter and my favorite — Lemon Pepper), and boiled to perfection along with corn on the cob and spicy sausage.

When the bags arrive at your table, the real fun begins. Hands get sullied, propriety is abandoned and chaos ensues in a whirlwind of twisting, cracking, digging and consuming. At the end you’re left with a glorious mess of discarded shells, dekerneled cobs and a mountain of crumpled, sauce-drenched napkins. Give everyone at your table a high five and never speak of this experience again, especially to uptight friends or significant others who frown upon such gluttonous depravity. What happens at The Boiling Crab should stay at The Boiling Crab.

The Boiling Crab is located at 742 W. Valley Blvd. and 33 W. Main Street in Alhambra, 18902 E. Gale Ave. in Rowland Heights and 3377 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles (in Koreatown).

Fried Oysters

Fried Oysters


Gumbo

Gumbo


Cajun Fries

Cajun Fries


Shrimp with Rajun Cajun Seasoning

Shrimp with Rajun Cajun Seasoning


Snow Crab Leg with Lemon Pepper Seasoning, Corn and Sausage

Snow Crab Legs with Lemon Pepper Seasoning, Corn and Sausage


Worth the wait

Bibs are the new must-have fashion accessory.


If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter at the top right of this page. And please forward to your friends!


The Boiling Crab on Urbanspoon
Boiling Crab on Urbanspoon
The Boiling Crab on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Alhambra, Koreatown, Rowland Heights

Welcome to the Club

Uni Bowl
Uni (aka Sea Urchin) is one of my favorite luxury ingredients, right up there with foie gras, truffles and lobster tail. So when I heard of Maruhide Uni Club, a new Japanese restaurant in Torrance where almost every dish is made with uni, it was hard to contain my enthusiasm. I was further excited by the fact that this restaurant calls itself a “club.” If Los Angeles had an uni fan club, I could envision myself running for president, or at least sergeant-at-arms. That’s how much I love uni. Naturally I made a beeline down to the South Bay to check it out.

Maruhide Uni Club is owned by a processing company and wholesaler of Santa Barbara uni. As a result, the uni at the restaurant is super fresh and the same quality you would get from a high end sushi restaurant. It’s creamy and tastes of the ocean (but not in a fishy way) with a slight sweetness and nuttiness. Dishes at Maruhide Uni Club include an Uni Rice Bowl, Uni Soup, Shrimp and Scallop Gratin with uni on top, Uni Croquettes, Tuna and Uni Carpaccio, Uni Omlette and a Marinated Uni and Squid Roll; basically everything except for Uni Ice Cream.

But while I love the concept of the restaurant and the food was surprisingly inexpensive for the generous amounts of uni in each dish, I didn’t love Maruhide Uni Club as much as I thought I would. Despite the use of one great ingredient, the dishes I had were, on the whole, disappointing. Also, the restaurant’s decor left a lot to be desired; it looks like it was decorated by Levitz and Lamps Plus. Service was not great either. Maybe I’ll bring these things up at the next club meeting…

Maruhide Uni Club is located at 2130 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Torrance.

Scallop and Uni Carpaccio

Scallop and Uni Carpaccio


Marinated Sea Urchin with Squid Roll

Marinated Sea Urchin with Squid Roll


Sea Urchin Cream Pasta

Sea Urchin Cream Pasta


Uni to go

Uni to go


Looks like it was decorated by Levitz and Lamps Plus

Looks like it was decorated by Levitz and Lamps Plus



Maruhide Uni Club on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Torrance

Don’t Wear Your Lederhosen

Original Vienna Schnitzel with Lemon, Lingonberries and Potato Salad

Original Vienna Schnitzel with Lemon, Lingonberries and Potato Salad

BierBeisl in Beverly Hills gets an “A” for authenticity. For a place that serves sausages and beer, it has a surprisingly formal and corporate vibe that initially turned me off. It’s more like the von Trapp household when the Baron made his children march in unison to his whistle commands, then the lovefest when Julie Andrews shows up, dresses everyone in curtains and gets them singing about small white Austrian flowers. But then I remembered that the upscale restaurants I’ve dined at in Austria exude the same sort of feeling.

The food at BierBiesl is wunderbar. The star offering is the schnitzel, the national dish of Austria. Just like the schnitzel you would find in Vienna, tender veal (or pork or turkey if you prefer) is pounded flat, breaded, fried to a golden crisp and served with a lemon, tart and sweet lingonberries and potato salad. It’s salty, crunchy and über-delicious. I also recommend the sausages, especially the Kasekrainer which has melted Swiss cheese oozing out of it and is served with spicy tarragon mustard and freshly grated horseradish.

For dessert, the delicately layered Apple Strudel with Vanilla Ice Cream is a must have. To drink, I recommend starting with a Stiegl Radler, which is half beer and half grapefruit soda, before moving on to one of BierBeisl’s many Austrian beers or wines. After a few drinks, you may feel the urge to start singing about small white Austrian flowers too.

BierBeisl is located at 9669 Little Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

Bread with Potato Spread

Bread with Potato Spread


Kasekrainer infused with Swiss Cheese and served with Tarragon Mustard and Fresh Horseradish

Kasekrainer infused with Swiss Cheese and served with Tarragon Mustard and Fresh Horseradish


Sauteed Veal Sweetbreads with Salsify, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Quail Egg, Melted Leeks and Black Truffle Oil

Sauteed Veal Sweetbreads with Salsify, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Quail Egg, Melted Leeks and Black Truffle Oil

Apple Strudel with Vanilla Ice Cream

Apple Strudel with Vanilla Ice Cream


Prost!

Prost!



BierBeisl Authentic Austrian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Beverly Hills

Jewish Soul Food — A Guide for Goyim

Delicatessen
Oy Gevalt! We’ve heard a lot lately about how Jewish delicatessens are a dying breed in New York. But here in LA, delis are holding their ground, and perhaps even thriving. Yes, iconic deli Junior’s in Westwood closed at the beginning of the year, but it was immediately replaced by Lenny’s Deli, which doesn’t seem that different.

While adventurous Angelenos love checking out restaurants that serve exotic cuisines they are not familiar with like Bolivian, Laotian and Napalese, many don’t realize that beyond the sandwiches and bowls of matzo ball soup, Jewish delis offer delectable Eastern European specialties unfamiliar to a lot of foodies, especially non-Jews. Below are some of my favorites.

As for the best places to consume these dishes, there are many divergent views in the LA Jewish community, which reminds me of the saying “With two Jews, you get three opinions.” Brent’s (in Northridge and Westlake Village) is my favorite Jewish deli in the city and has the best food overall. I also love Canter’s on Fairfax, especially because of its excellent bakery, its cool retro look and the fact that it’s open 24 hours for late night noshing and kibitzing. Langer’s (Downtown) ranks next on my list because of its amazing pastrami. My other favorites are Billy’s Deli (in Glendale and Torrance), Nate ‘n Al (in Beverly Hills) and Greenblatt’s (in West Hollywood). UPDATE: Billy’s Deli is closed. What a shonda (shame)!

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup from Brent’s Deli


1. Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup Every fresser and his brother orders Matzo Ball Soup at a deli, but I prefer this hearty soup instead. The best versions contain succulent pieces of braised short rib called “flanken.”

Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha Varnishkes from Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant


2. Kasha Varnishkes Like two inseparable Jewish friends from the old country, this dish is a classic combination of Kasha, a cereal usually made of buckwheat, and buttery bowtie pasta.

Cheese Blintzes

Cheese Blintzes from Brent’s Deli


3. Blintzes These are thin crepes wrapped around a filling, which is usually sweetened ricotta or farmer’s cheese, but can also be potato, blueberry or cherry. They’re topped with powdered sugar and served with sour cream and jam.

Bubbe made a kishka

Bubbe made a Kishka! But this one is from Brent’s Deli.


4. Kishka aka Stuffed Derma This was made with cow intestines back in the day, but now it has a sausage casing and is stuffed with a filling of flour, carrots, onions, celery and paprika. It tastes like stuffing and is usually served with gravy.

What am I?  Chopped Liver?

What am I? Chopped Liver? Yes, from Canter’s Deli.


5. Chopped Liver Schmear some on a slice of freshly baked rye bread and place a piece of raw onion on top and you’re in business. I also like to eat my chopped liver with hot and sweet mustard.

Fried Kreplach with Gravy from Brent's Deli

Fried Kreplach with Gravy from Brent’s Deli


6. Fried Kreplach A kreplach is a dense doughy dumpling filled with ground meat. It’s often served in a bowl of chicken soup instead of a matzo ball. Kreplachs are amazing fried up and topped with sauteed onions.

Beef Knish from Billy's Deli & Cafe

Beef Knish from Billy’s Deli & Cafe


7. Knish This is essentially a little baked hand pie made with a thin layer of dough surrounding a filling of either mashed potatoes, ground meat, kasha, sauerkraut, mashed sweet potatoes or cheese.

Stuffed Cabbage from Canter's Deli

Stuffed Cabbage from Canter’s Deli


8. Stuffed Cabbage aka Holishkes It can be described as meatloaf which has been wrapped in cabbage and cooked in a sweet and sour sauce. What’s not to like?

Black & White Cookie

Black & White Cookie from Brent’s Deli


9. Black & White Cookie Really more cake than cookie, this saucer-shaped treat has chocolate icing on one half and vanilla icing on the other half. Jerry Seinfeld referred to these cookies as “two races of flavor living side by side in harmony.”

Poppyseed Hamataschen from Brent's Deli

Poppyseed Hamataschen from Brent’s Deli


10. Hamantaschen My favorite Jewish bakery dessert is named after the triangular hat of a real life villain named Haman who tried to exterminate the Jews in ancient Persia. We celebrate his defeat by “eating his hat.” These cookies have fillings such as apricot, prune, cherry, chocolate or my favorite — poppyseed.

Halvah

Halvah

11. Halvah This dense and flakey confection made with sesame seeds is an acquired taste. You can usually find them at the deli cashier’s counter next to chocolate covered raspberry jelly candies.

Dr. Brown's Soda

Dr. Brown’s Soda


12. Dr. Brown’s Soda This is the drink of choice at a Jewish deli. The flavors are Black Cherry, Cream or Cel-Ray, an old school celery seed soda that was originally developed as a tonic to promote good health. L’Chayim!

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Glendale, Mid-City, Northridge, Torrance, West Hollywood, Westwood

Dog Day Afternoon

Umami Chili Dog
In the age old power struggle of hot dog vs hamburger, Umami Burger finally throws a bone to wieners. Umami Burbank, the 17th location of the ubiquitous chain, has all of the eatery’s usual hamburger offerings, but also specializes in hot dogs. The inspiration for this frankfurter focus is Umami Burbank’s locale, the former digs of Papoo’s Hot Dog Show, a Burbank/Toluca Lake institution that shuttered a couple years ago after a 62-year run.

Just like Papoo’s, Umami Burbank offers seven different hot dogs and a specialty burger called the Show Burger. These dogs have a lot in common with Umami’s signature burgers: a delicious proprietary blend of meats, a brioche bun sweetened with milk and honey, and many of the same delicious toppings. Hot dog versions of Umami burger specialities include the Truffle Dog, the spicy Hatch Dog and my favorite, the Manly Dog with beer-cheddar cheese, minced bacon, onion strings, house ketchup and mustard spread. And if you’re looking for something entirely new, check out the tasty Chili Dog or the gourmet corn dog called “The Burb.”

In further tribute to Papoo’s, Umami Burbank retained much of its building’s exterior, as well as some of the interior’s mid-century design, which it classed up with a chandelier, tufted leather booths and bar stools, damask wallpaper and large framed photographs of large dogs. There’s also a nice patio to dine in when it’s not a thousand degrees outside; perfect for that low-key pitch meeting with an exec from nearby Warner Bros., NBC Universal or Disney.

Umami Burbank is located at 4300 W. Riverside Drive in Burbank.

Looks a lot like Papoo's Hot Dog Show

The former location of Papoo’s Hot Dog Show


The Manly Dog with beer-cheddar cheese, minced bacon, onion strings, house ketchup and mustard spread

The Manly Dog with beer-cheddar cheese, minced bacon, onion strings, house ketchup and mustard spread


The Truffle Dog with roasted garlic aioli, house truffle cheese and truffle infused port onions

The Truffle Dog with roasted garlic aioli, house truffle cheese and truffle infused port onions


The Original Dog with roasted tomato, crispy parmesan and caramelized onions

The Original Dog with roasted tomato, crispy parmesan and caramelized onions


The Show Burger with Hak's BBQ sauce, onion strings, minced bacon and beer cheese

The Show Burger with Hak’s BBQ sauce, onion strings, minced bacon and beer cheese


Fried Pickles with Jalapeno Ranch

Fried Pickles with Jalapeno Ranch


Peanut Butter Cakewich

Peanut Butter Cakewich


PB&J Ice Cream Sandwich

PB&J Ice Cream Sandwich


Burgers and beer at the bar

The Bar


Back Patio

The Patio



Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

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Wonder-Ama

Mom's GreenEnchiladas
Angels Flight is an LA curiosity located in the heart of downtown. Built in 1901, it is known as “The Shortest Railway in the World,” and for 50¢, takes you up 298 feet to the top of Bunker Hill. A couple blocks away, on 4th Street, is another elevation of sorts. Bar Amá is a new restaurant from Chef Josef Centeno (Bäco Mercat and Lazy Ox Canteen) that serves elevated Tex-Mex fare.

Often described as bastardized Mexican cuisine from this side of the Border, Tex Mex is comfort food that is usually cheap and best enjoyed with a cold cerveza. For Chef Centeno, it’s the food that he grew up with and, at Bar Amá, he refines several Tex Mex classics and puts a new spin on others. There is of course Queso, a gloppy liquid cheese dip that is a Tex Mex staple and delectable Puffy Tacos filled with yummy Carne Guisada. My favorite dishes are an amazing Pork Belly Chicharron with Poblano Cream and Lime, and a decadent dessert of Leche Quemada (Burnt Milk) Pudding with Graham Cracker, Fennel Pollen, Peanut and Almond. Other menu items, such as the Rancho Gordo “Borracho” Beans with Beer, Cilantro and Bacon and the Albondigas with Corn & Sweet Potato Cake, Tomatillo and Baked Egg, sounded better than they tasted.

Not surprisingly, the elevated cuisine at Bar Amá is pricier than the grub at most Tex Mex eateries. However, you’re dining in a nicer than normal space; a very cool industrial chic room with lots of reclaimed wood and southwest tiles. Also worth mentioning is the impressive bar stocked with an extensive array of high end tequillas and mezcals. For extra fun, you can follow your dinner with a ride on Angels Flight and experience a bit of LA history.

Bar Amá is located at 118 W. 4th St., Los Angeles (Downtown). Don’t confuse it with fellow Downtown newbie Alma.

Tex-Mex Queso with Avocado, Sour Cream and Salsa

Tex-Mex Queso with Avocado, Sour Cream and Salsa


English Peas & Black Grapes with Crema, Arbol and Pea Tendril

English Peas & Black Grapes with Crema, Arbol and Pea Tendril


Carne Guisada Puffy Tacos

Carne Guisada Puffy Tacos


Albondigas with Corn & Sweet Potato Cake, Tomatillo and Baked Egg

Albondigas with Corn & Sweet Potato Cake, Tomatillo and Baked Egg


Fideo with Octopus & Kielbasa with Toasted Vermicelli and Pepitas

Fideo with Octopus & Kielbasa with Toasted Vermicelli and Pepitas


Leche Quemada (Burnt Milk) Pudding with Graham Cracker, Fennel Pollen, Peanut and Almond

Leche Quemada (Burnt Milk) Pudding with Graham Cracker, Fennel Pollen, Peanut and Almond


Industrial Chic/Southwest Decor

Industrial Chic/Southwest Decor


Angels Flight

Angels Flight



Bar Amá on Urbanspoon

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Dead Chefs Society

The Residency Umamicatessan
Something very cool and collegiate is going on downtown at UMAMIcatessen. There’s a twelve-seat bar in the back of the restaurant that has been converted into “The Residency.” Here, visiting chefs create intimate and unique themed dinners. The latest is the Dead Chefs pop-up series presented by talented chef Micah Wexler (of the late great Mezze) and his partner Mike Kassar. Each meal is five courses, with optional wine pairing, inspired by the cuisine of a deceased chef. Wexler precedes each course with information about the legendary chef and an explanation of the dish you are about to consume. It’s kind of like that fun seminar that everyone wanted to take when you were in college with the cool visiting professor.

I recently attended one of these dinners; an homage to Maestro Martino di Como, a 15th-Century Italian culinarian who was the Western World’s first celebrity chef. The meal (pictured below) was molto buono and its highlight was a whole roasted suckling pig that Wexler carved table-side. Future Dead Chefs honored will include Julia Child, Jean-Louis Palladin, Sylvia Woods (the Queen of Soul Food) and Chen Kenmin (the father of Chinese Sichuan cooking).

The Residency at UMAMIcatessen is located at 852 S. Broadway, Los Angeles (Downtown). The Dead Chef dinners are at 7:15 and 9:00 every Thursday night until August 15th. Each dinner is $60 per person plus $30 for optional wine pairing.

Sgombri con Zucchini e Finocchi (Mackerel and Summer Squash with Wild Fennel Sauce)

Sgombri con Zucchini e Finocchi (Mackerel, Summer Squash with Wild Fennel Sauce)


Zanzarelli con Fava e Zafferano (Bread Soup with Fava Beans and Saffron

Zanzarelli con Fava e Zafferano (Bread Soup with Fava Beans and Saffron)


Pasta with Arugula Pesto

Pasta with Arugula Pesto


Maialino da Latte Arrosto (Roasted Suckling Pig, Garlic, Herbs and Offal Sauce)

Maialino da Latte Arrosto (Roasted Suckling Pig, Garlic, Herbs and Offal Sauce)


Crostata di Madorle (Almond Tarte with Date and Coffee and topped with Creme Fraiche)

Crostata di Madorle (Almond Tarte with Date and Coffee and topped with Creme Fraiche)


Chef Micah Wexler

Chef Micah Wexler educates and feeds you


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Boom Goes the Dynamite

Maryland Blue Crab Cake
If there was a Justice League for LA’s top chefs, David LeFevre would be included as “South Bay Man” or perhaps would just be known as “The Beachcomber.” He would travel on a turbo-charged beach cruiser, his flapping cape adorned with an “MB” shield and his utility belt replete with oyster knife and spatula. His superpower would remain the same: bringing kick ass cuisine to the impoverished palates of bronzed surfer dudes and beautiful volleyball babes in Manhattan Beach.

After opening the South Bay’s first great restaurant, MB Post, a couple years ago, LeFevre has now brought a second excellent eatery to the Beach Cities. Fishing with Dynamite is a tiny but bustling Eastern Seaboard-style oyster bar and seafood house located just a stone’s throw from the Manhattan Beach Pier. It’s a fun place to enjoy a cocktail such as the “Original Gangster” (Boulevardier with White Dog Whiskey, Aperol, Vya Sweet & Grapefruit) or the “Branding Iron” (Beer Flip with Oro Acholado Pisco, Egg, Vanilla, Nutmeg & Witte Bier), while slurping down Mattaki Oysters or indulging in some Peruvian Scallops or Little Neck Clams. The menu also features an array of delicious seafood concoctions such as Black Miso Cod, Maryland Blue Crab Cake (pictured above) and a truly spectacular Spicy Albacore Tuna Tartare. For those concerned with sustainable fishing practices, don’t get bent out of shape over the restaurant’s playful name. There is no actual dynamite fishing with regard to the seafood served by LeFevre; superheroes don’t condone that sort of thing.

Fishing with Dynamite is located at 1148 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. Reservations are taken for only a couple tables; everything else, including seats at the raw bar and cocktail bar, is for walk-ins.

Oysters on the Half Shell with Horseradish, Lemon, Cocktail Sauce and Ponzu Sauce

Oysters on the Half Shell with Horseradish, Lemon, Cocktail Sauce and Ponzu Sauce


Chef David's Mother's Cape Cod Squash Rolls with Rosemary Butter

Chef David’s Mother’s Cape Cod Squash Rolls with Rosemary Butter


Spicy Albacore Tuna Tartare

Spicy Albacore Tuna Tartare


Beer Battered Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage and Spicy Crema with Lime and Cilantro on Housemade Corn Tortillas

Beer Battered Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage and Spicy Crema with Lime and Cilantro on Housemade Corn Tortillas


Maple Pudding with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Candied Pecans and Rosemary Sandies

Maple Pudding with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Candied Pecans and Rosemary Sandies


A tiny place with a party atmosphere

A tiny place with a party atmosphere


Chef David LeFevre

Chef David LeFevre


A second great restaurant for Manhattan Beach!

A second great restaurant for Manhattan Beach!



Fishing With Dynamite on Urbanspoon

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Do Not Pass Go’s

Kelp Halibut
When I arrived at Go’s Mart for the first time on the advice of a friend, I thought maybe I was being punk’d. Its name sounds more like a gas station convenience store than a highly recommended Japanese restaurant. Its location next to a massage parlor in a non-descript strip mall in the West Valley Hinterlands of Canoga Park further fueled my skepticism. Once inside, I found myself in a tiny space with mostly bare orange walls, two tables and a seven-seat sushi bar. One of the best sushi restaurants in the city? Inconceivable! But after my first few pieces of mind-blowing nigiri, I know that it was true.

Go’s Mart is not for sushi purists. The super fresh, melt-in-your-mouth slices of fish are topped with things like gold leaf, sea salt, truffle oil and caviar. The only menu is a list of exotic specials on a dry erase board, but you can order lots of things that aren’t on the board and it’s probably best to put yourself in Chef Go’s expert hands and get the omakase (chef’s choice).

If you’re a-la-carting it, there are a few must-have items. The Live Scallop Sushi is insanely good, the Kelp Halibut is unbelievably amazing and the Akimo (Monk Fish Liver with Sweet Plum Sausce, Scallion, Sesame Seeds and Goji Berry) is transcendent. One of the best and most interesting dishes is the “Holy Cow,” a seared slice of authentic Japanese Kobe or Wagyu beef served sushi-style on rice with lemon salt and truffle oil. Although he’s clearly ultra-passionate about his sushi, Chef Go is no Sushi Nazi and won’t eject you for ordering a Spicy Tuna Roll.

At the end of my meal, there was no doubt that, despite the low-rent location and decor, Go’s Mart was a high-end sushi establishment and the bill reflected this as well. It was very expensive but worth every penny.

Go’s Mart is located at 22330 Sherman Way in Canoga Park.

Akimo (Monk Fish Liver with Sweet Plum Sauce, Scallion, Sesame Seeds and Goji Berry)

Akimo (Monk Fish Liver with Sweet Plum Sauce, Scallion, Sesame Seeds and Goji Berry)


Kampachi Belly

Kampachi Belly Sushi


Baby Abalone Sushi, Baby Red Snapper Sushi and Japanese Sea Bass Sushi

Baby Abalone Sushi, Baby Red Snapper Sushi and Japanese Sea Bass Sushi


Live Scallop Sushi

Live Scallop Sushi


Holy Cow (Kobe Beef with Lemon Salt and Truffle Oil)

Holy Cow


Snow Crab and Vegetable Hand Roll

Snow Crab and Vegetable Hand Roll


Special Albacore Roll

Special Albacore Roll


Sushi porn?

Sashimi porn. Nice pair…of scallops!


A tiny place with bare orange walls

A tiny place with orange walls


Don't judge a book by its cover.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.



Go's Mart on Urbanspoon

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Badmaash is Badaash

Chicken Tikka Poutine
Q: What do you get when you combine Downtown hipsters, a Warhol-esqe treatment of Mahatma Ghandi, craft beer and Chicken Tikka Poutine? A: Badmaash, which opened last month and appears to be the country’s first Indian Gastropub. Its name is Hindi slang for a rascal or mischief-maker, and this Indian bad boy sports a modern and über-cool look which includes blackboard walls and brightly-colored vintage Bollywood movie posters. Rock music and an eclectic selection of fruity wines, India pale ales and other microbrews create a party-like atmosphere which stimulates the chakras and brims with good karma.

The food is as fun as the decor. The menu offers a mix of Bombay street food, Indian fusion cuisine and traditional Indian favorites. Badmaash’s mash-up fare includes the aforementioned Chicken Tikka Poutine (which is excellent and pictured above), Crispy Tamarind Glazed Pork Belly with Housemade Pickles and Cilantro-Pineapple Yogurt, a Spiced Lamb Burger and Chili-Cheese Naan Bread. There’s even a blasphemously delicious beef dish (which you rarely see in Indian restaurants for religious reasons) called Holy Cow Keema POW! If you want to go old school, you can feast on Butter Chicken, Saag Paneer and Ghost Chili Lamb Vindaloo. To drink, I recommend trying an imported Thums Up soda, a spicy cola with a strong cardamom and cinnamon flavor. Namaste, LA foodies!

Badmaash is located at 108 W 2nd St, Los Angeles (Downtown).

Indian Pickles and Preserves (Housemade Pickles with House Mango Chutney and Tomato Chutney)

Indian Pickles and Preserves (Housemade Pickles with House Mango Chutney and Tomato Chutney)


Holy Cow Keema POW!

Holy Cow Keema POW!


Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken


Two Thums Up!

Two Thums Up!


Super cool digs

Super cool digs


Love the upstairs too!

Love the upstairs too!



Badmaashla on Urbanspoon

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Alma Lovin’

Smoked Salmon with Housemade English Muffins
Alma started as an acclaimed pop-up restaurant in Venice, but laid down roots last year next to a taxi dance hall downtown on South Broadway. It has a cool minimalistic and modern interior with an open kitchen where a talented young chef named Ari Taymor hones his craft. Taymor’s modern American cuisine is the food equivalent of a Terrence Malick film or an opera by Phillip Glass; in other words, it’s not for everyone. But for foodies and other bon vivants (myself included), dinner at Alma can be a very special experience.

The menu, which is printed in lower case letters on pages of a yellow legal pad, changes daily and features small plates composed of seasonal, market-driven ingredients, many of which are sourced from an exclusive arrangement with a garden/micro-farm in Venice. The flavors are complex and nuanced. The combinations are, for the most part, interesting and inspired. As you would expect, there are foams and droplets of sauce.

My favorite dish is the Chicken Liver Toast & Date Jam, a perfect amalgam of sweet and savory, creamy and crunchy. I’m also a big fan of Alma’s Seaweed & Tofu Beignets with Yuzu Kosho and Lime, as well as their unusual “onion salad” of Spring Alliums, Kumquats, Goat’s Milk, Turnips and Coffee Granola. For dessert, I recommend the Warm Rye Bread Pudding with Red Fruits, Almond Brittle and Frozen Yogurt. You can enjoy it all with an organic wine, craft beer or homemade soda.

Alma is located at 952 S. Broadway, Los Angeles (Downtown). UPDATE: ALMA IS NOW CLOSED. VERY SAD.

Spring Alliums, Kumquat, Goat Milk, Turnip, Coffee Granola

Spring Alliums, Kumquat, Goat Milk, Turnip, Coffee Granola


Uni Toast, Burrata and Caviar

Uni Toast, Burrata and Caviar


Seaweed & Tofu Beignet, Yuzu Kosho and Lime

Seaweed & Tofu Beignet, Yuzu Kosho and Lime


Dungeness Crab, Summer Squash, Almond Milk, Quinoa and Basil

Dungeness Crab, Summer Squash, Almond Milk, Quinoa and Basil


Seared Yellowtail Jack, Celery and Lentils

Seared Yellowtail Jack, Celery and Lentils


Chicken Liver Toast and Date Jam

Chicken Liver Toast and Date Jam


Grilled Scallops, Smoked Pork, Corn, Miso and Apricot

Grilled Scallops, Smoked Pork, Corn, Miso and Apricot


New York Steak, Morel, Snails, Asparagus and Smoked Garlic  Bearnaise

New York Steak, Morel, Snails, Asparagus and Smoked Garlic Bearnaise


Jidori Chicken, Carrot, Lemongrass and Basil

Jidori Chicken, Carrot, Lemongrass and Basil


Charred Eggplant with Trumpet Mushrooms, Broccoli, Bulgur and Pine Nuts

Charred Eggplant with Trumpet Mushrooms, Broccoli, Bulgur and Pine Nuts


Sweetbreads, Mole, Beet and Cherry

Sweetbreads, Mole, Beet and Cherry


Buttermilk Cake, Apricot and Brown Butter Ice Cream

Buttermilk Cake, Apricot and Brown Butter Ice Cream


Chocolate, Popcorn and Sorrel

Chocolate, Popcorn and Sorrel


Warm Rye Bread Pudding with Red Fruits, Almond Brittle and Frozen Yogurt

Warm Rye Bread Pudding with Red Fruits, Almond Brittle and Frozen Yogurt


Modern, cutting-edge French cuisine next door to a taxi dance hall

Modern, cutting-edge cuisine next door to a taxi dance hall



Alma on Urbanspoon

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A Torrid Affair

Stella Barra Pizzeria
A couple years ago I told you about a torrid affair I was having with a mushroom and truffle pizza. We started off pretty hot and heavy. Unfortunately, though, because I live in the Valley and she resides in Santa Monica, the interminable 405 construction and ensuing traffic have wreaked havoc on our relationship. But don’t be sad. Things are about to improve because the pizza and I can now hook up in Hollywood.

Stella Barra Pizzeria is the new sister restaurant of my favorite upscale pizza joint in the city, Stella Rossa Pizza Bar in Santa Monica (which has now been renamed Stella Barra as well). Located on Sunset in Hollywood, Stella Barra serves the same amazing pizzas as the Santa Monica restaurant, but in a much larger and even cooler space. It’s the perfect spot to dine when going to the Arclight, Pantages or Palladium, or to kick back at the bar with a glass of wine after a vinyl foraging session at Amoeba Records (life in LA can be so exhausting!).

Both restaurants are helmed by a young genius chef named Jeff Mahin. You may know Jeff as a finalist earlier this year on the reality tv show/cooking competition The Taste, but I’m far more impressed with the fact that he trained at my all-time favorite restaurant in the world, The Fat Duck in England. Jeff spent years perfecting the perfect pizza crust and tops his creations with the most mouth-wateringly delicious ingredients such as Calabrian chilies, smoked paprika oil, housemade sausage and sunny-side up farm eggs.

Besides Jeff’s signature pizzas, Stella Barra has many great Italian starters and salads. I love the Fresh Local Burrata with Roasted Tomato Jam, House-made Bread, Sea Salt and Arugula, the Organic Meatballs (pictured above) with Tomatoes, Lardo, Basil and Oregano, and the Spinach & Purple Kale Salad with Pecorino Romano, Medjool Dates, Shaved Radishes and Mustard Vinaigrette. If serving LA’s best pizza was not enough, Stella Barra also sells big, freshly baked M Street Bakery cookies, which are possibly the best cookies in the whole city. I’m especially partial to the sweet and salty Bacon & Chocolate Chip one.

Stella Barra Pizzeria is located at 6372 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles (in Hollywood).

Fresh Local Burrata with Roasted Tomato Jam, House-made Bread, Sea Salt and Arugula

Fresh Local Burrata with Roasted Tomato Jam, House-made Bread, Sea Salt and Arugula


Spinach & Purple Kale Salad with Pecorino Romano, Medjool Dates, Shaved Radishes and Mustard Vinaigrette

Spinach & Purple Kale Salad with Pecorino Romano, Medjool Dates, Shaved Radishes and Mustard Vinaigrette


Shaved Mushroom Pizza with Gruyere, Melted Onions, Black Truffle, Torn Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme

Shaved Mushroom Pizza with Gruyere, Melted Onions, Black Truffle, Torn Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme


Prosciutto & Farm Egg Pizza with Mozzarella, Gruyere, Pecorino, Chili Flakes, Black Pepper and Sunny-side Up Egg

Prosciutto & Farm Egg Pizza with Mozzarella, Gruyere, Pecorino, Chili Flakes, Black Pepper and Sunny-side Up Egg


Bacon and Chocolate Chip Cookie

Bacon and Chocolate Chip Cookie


Talented Chef Jeff Mahin

Talented Chef Jeff Mahin


Cool Digs

Cool Digs


Amazing Cookies

Cookies and Wine



Stella Barra on Urbanspoon

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Gettin’ Sauced

Baby Back Ribs
Everyone knows that the Valley has great sushi bars. A lesser known fact is that the Valley is also the home of many of LA’s best barbecue joints. My favorite is Uncle Andre’s BBQ in Studio City. A true hidden gem and a hole in the wall, Uncle Andre’s serves both amazing Southern style barbecue and soul food.

At first blush, you might not be impressed. The restaurant is a small, poorly decorated hovel in a dull Valley strip mall. You place your order at a window and then wait for a long, long time — typically between 30 and 45 minutes unless you call ahead. But none of this really matters because the food, when it finally arrives, is so damn good.

The barbecue is top notch; generous portions of perfectly cooked meats slathered in a delicious tangy and slightly sweet sauce. My favorite dish is the excellent Angus Boneless Beef Ribs. The Baby Back Pork Ribs and Barbecue Chicken are also great. There are Fried Catfish Nuggets, Hush Puppies, Fried Chicken (with or without waffles) and tasty Chicken Tenders. Make sure to order the Mac ‘n Cheese; it’s one of the best in the city. Other sides include Cornbread, Collard Greens cooked in vinegar, and yummy BBQ Baked Beans. On Fridays, they serve Gumbo until they run out. Get the Banana Pudding for dessert. You can thank me later.

Uncle Andre’s BBQ is located at 11715 Moorpark St. in Studio City.

Mac 'n Cheese

Mac ‘n Cheese


BBQ Chicken and Baked Beans

BBQ Chicken and Baked Beans


Cornbread

Cornbread


Chicken Tenders

Chicken Tenders


Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding


A hole in the wall in a dull Valley strip mall

A hole in the wall in a dull Valley strip mall


Killer BBQ

Killer BBQ



Uncle Andre's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Chego and the Man

Facebook
If I didn’t love ’70s sitcoms so much, I would have titled this piece “Chego’s Choi Champions Chinatown.”  This past weekend, LA’s favorite son and founder of the modern food truck revolution, Roy Choi, moved his super cool temple of reconceived rice bowls known as Chego from the Westside to Chinatown.  Desperately in need of some revitalization, frowzy Chinatown is great when you’re shopping for exotic herbs, bamboo backscratchers or paper parasols. However, the restaurants there leave much to be desired (yes, I’m one of those people who believe you must drive to the San Gabriel Valley if you want good traditional Chinese food), so Chego’s relocation is pretty much a game-changer for the neighborhood.

Chego is not fancy or expensive; you order at a counter. The new Chinatown digs are considerably smaller than the previous Palms location, which was small to begin with. The long communal tables of the old space are replaced with picnic tables outside the restaurant in the courtyard of Chinatown’s Far East Plaza, which enables you to soak up local flavor while dining. The creative Asian fusion comfort cuisine is basically the same as before; i.e. awesome. My favorite dish is the Chubby Pork Belly (pictured above), an incredibly delicious rice bowl with kochujang-lacquered Kurobuta, fried egg, pickled radishes, water spinach, Chinese broccoli, cotija and peanuts. I also love The Beefy T bowl with hot chili fried rice, diced prime rib, braised shoyu garlic paste, fried egg and fried shallots. For dessert, it’s a tough decision between the Sriracha Candy Bar (chocolate crisped rice bottom, caramel, Srirach ganache, spiced candied peanuts and dark chocolate) and the Piña Krackalada (sweet coconut rice with caramelized pineapple and dark chocolate). Get both; your secret indulgence is safe in Chinatown.

Chego is located at 727 N. Broadway, Los Angeles.

Chef, genius and all-around cool guy Roy "Papi" Choi

Chef, genius and all-around cool guy Roy “Papi” Choi


The Beefy T (Hot Chili Fried Rice, Diced Prime Rib, Braised Shoyu Garlic Paste with Fried Egg and Fried Shallots

The Beefy T (Hot Chili Fried Rice, Diced Prime Rib, Braised Shoyu Garlic Paste with Fried Egg and Fried Shallots)


Bottled Sodas and Sangria

Bottled Sodas and Sangria


Pina Krackalada (Sweet Coconut Rice, Caramelized Pineapple and Puffed Rice)

Piña Krackalada (Sweet Coconut Rice, Caramelized Pineapple and Puffed Rice)


Tres Leches (Devil's Food Cake Soaked in Cayenne-Cinnamon-Infused Leches with Tapioca Milk Pudding and Spiced Peanut Brittle)

Tres Leches (Devil’s Food Cake Soaked in Cayenne-Cinnamon-Infused Leches with Tapioca Milk Pudding and Spiced Peanut Brittle)


New Chinatown location

Picnic table seating in the courtyard


Chinatown's Far East Plaza, the new home of Chego

Chinatown’s Far East Plaza, the new home of Chego



Chego on Urbanspoon

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