Birdy Num Num

Chili Crab Toast with Spicy Cucumber and Coriander
As enchanting and rapturous as the kind of Japanese fairytale its name evokes, Hinoki & the Bird opened a few weeks ago in Century City. It’s the baby of chef David Myers (Comme Ça and the late great Sona) and Kuniko Yagi of recent Top Chef fame. Located just down the street from the “Death Star” that houses CAA, Hinoki & the Bird has a style that you would expect of a hip Downtown or Venice restaurant, and not of staid and corporate-y Century City. Hinoki is a Japanese cedar tree and reclaimed wood is used extensively in the clean and modern interior. Seating is either in a beautiful enclosed patio or inside, sandwiched between the frenetic energy of an open kitchen and an impressively stocked bar.

Cocktails, such as the Gordon’s Cup (gin, muddled lime, cucumber, Szechuan pepper and salt) or the Griffith Park Swizzle (bourbon, mint, lime, bitters and absinthe), are a must. The food is Asian-inspired California cuisine. Almost everything I’ve eaten there so far has been excellent. Some of my favorites are the Beef Tartare with Pickled Jalapeno and Parmigiano, the Chili Crab Toast with Spicy Cucumbers and Coriander (pictured above) and the Salt & Pepper Marinated Calamari. Their Kale “Crispy and Raw” with Curried Almonds, Pecorino and Red Wine Vinaigrette is a delicious mix of colors and textures and one of the best kale salads I have ever eaten. I also love the Caramel Braised Pork Belly with Radish and Mustard Greens and the Miso Marinated Skirt Steak.

The desserts are incredible too, especially the Miso Mochi Rice Cream with Butterscotch and Togarashi and the Evo Parfait with Olive Oil Sable, Winter Citrus and Cinnamon Meringue. This is not surprising. After all, great fairytales always have happy endings.

Hinoki & the Bird is located at 10 Century Dr., Los Angeles (in Century City).

Spice Scented Nuts

Spice Scented Nuts


Salt & Pepper Marinated Calamari with Ajwain-Tomato Jam

Salt & Pepper Marinated Calamari with Ajwain-Tomato Jam


Crispy Marinated Chicken with Lemon Aioli

Crispy Marinated Chicken with Lemon Aioli


Beef Tartare with Pickled Jalapeno and Parmigiano

Beef Tartare with Pickled Jalapeno and Parmigiano


Lobster Roll with Green Curry and Thai Basil on a Charcoal-infused Bun

Lobster Roll with Green Curry and Thai Basil on a Charcoal-infused Bun


Caramel Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly with Radish and Mustard Greens

Caramel Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly with Radish and Mustard Greens


Miso Marinated Skirt Steak

Miso Marinated Skirt Steak


Jidori Chicken

Jidori Chicken


Grilled Winter Mushrooms with Sea Salt and Lime

Grilled Winter Mushrooms with Sea Salt and Lime


Evo Parfait with Olive Oil Sable, Winter Citrus and Cinnamon Meringue

Evo Parfait with Olive Oil Sable, Winter Citrus and Cinnamon Meringue


Miso Mochi Rice Cream with Butterscotch and Togarashi

Miso Mochi Rice Cream with Butterscotch and Togarashi


Matcha Donuts & Koji Milk

Matcha Donuts & Koji Milk


Gordon's Cup with Gin, Muddle Lime, Cucumber, Szechuan Pepper and Salt

Gordon’s Cup with Gin, Muddle Lime, Cucumber, Szechuan Pepper and Salt


A very cool space

A very cool space with lots of reclaimed wood and an open kitchen.



Hinoki & the Bird on Urbanspoon

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Plate It Again Sam

Plate
I love a good food fest, so I was happy to hear that LA Weekly’s annual food and wine event is back for a fifth year. It will take place on Sunday, March 3rd from 1-5pm, at the Peterson Automotive Museum. Previously called “The Gold Standard” before the departure of LA Weekly’s food critic Jonathan Gold, the yearly event is now known simply as “Plate” and it promises to once again be one of the top LA food events of the year. There will be unlimited tastings from more than 40 of the city’s best and most interesting restaurants and unlimited wine (in addition to beer and spirits) from over 30 top-shelf wineries curated by Downtown LA’s BUZZ Wine Beer Shop.

As far as these kind of events go, this one is relatively inexpensive. Tickets are $75 for General Admission and $95 for VIP Admission, which enables you to enter an hour earlier than the General Admission people and gets you a gift bag. If you’ve never been to one of these fun events before, this is a great one to start with. Some of my favorite restaurants, including Mo-Chica, Jitlada, Chichen Itza, Hungry Cat, Wurstkuche, and Philippe’s will be participating. A portion of the receipts goes to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank so you’re actually doing a good deed by filling your belly with delicious food and drinking lots and lots of wine.

You can buy tickets by going to LA Weekly’s website or by clicking here. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

UPDATE: Plate 2013 was a success! Here are a few highlights:

My hero Roy Choi announces the opening later this year of Chego, his gourmet rice bowl restaurant, in Chinatown

My hero Roy Choi announces the opening later this year of Chego, his gourmet rice bowl restaurant, in Chinatown

Gilberto Cetina from Chichen Itza served up Tacos de Cochinita Pibil

Gilberto Cetina from Chichen Itza served up Tacos de Cochinita Pibil

Ricard Zarate and Stephane Bombet from Mo-Chica and Picca were serving amazing food and talking about their new restaurant Paiche, which will open shortly in the old Mo-Chica space.

Ricard Zarate and Stephane Bombet from Mo-Chica and Picca were serving amazing food and talking about their now restaurant Paiche, which will open shortly in the old Mo-Chica space.

Ricardo Zarate's Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Miso Dressing was my favorite dish of the event.

Ricardo Zarate’s Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Miso Dressing was my favorite dish of the event.

8 Colorful Flavors of Pork from Korean restaurant Palsaik

8 Colorful Flavors of Pork from Korean restaurant Palsaik

Chef Jazz from my favorite Thai restaurant in LA, Jitlada, served up Spicy Chicken Curry.

Chef Jazz from my favorite Thai restaurant in LA, Jitlada, served up Spicy Chicken Curry.

Nguyen Tran from Starry Kitchen served Shrimp Chips with Grill Beef Bites in a homemade costume.

Nguyen Tran from Starry Kitchen served Shrimp Chips with Grill Beef Bites in a homemade costume.

Where's Spritle and Chim Chim?  The event took place in the Peterson Automotive Museum.

Where’s Spritle and Chim Chim? The event took place in the Peterson Automotive Museum.

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In Hot Water

Mizu 212
Lately I have been on a strict low-carb diet, probably the inevitable result of eating all of those scones. It’s one of those diets where you only eat protein and vegetables, so I’ve been frequenting all of the shabu shabu joints in town. For the uninitiated, Japanese-style shabu shabu is basically a plate of thinly sliced raw meat and another plate of raw vegetables and tofu (and udon noodles if you’re one of those hedonists that eats carbs), all of which you cook yourself in your own individual pot of boiling water. My wife has an issue with going to restaurants where you need to cook your own food, but I think it’s incredibly fun.

My favorite shabu shabu restaurant is Mizu 212. The “212” stands for “212 degrees,” the temperature at which water boils. Mizu 212 is exactly what you want in a restaurant serving raw meat; it’s exceedingly clean and modern, and the food is of the highest quality. Most of the seating is at a wraparound bar and it feels like you’re eating in a really cool science lab that plays great music.

There are several choices of premium beef. I usually order the “Vintage Natural Beef” Prime Grade Rib-Eye. It’s excellent, although “vintage” beef sounds funny to me; like they’re peddling old meat. I think the idea is that it’s old-fashioned-style beef, the kind that was raised before the use of hormones or antibiotics. If you’re wiling to pay a premium, you can get Kobe-syle “Wagyu” beef. They also have free-range chicken, high-grade black pork or lamb, and even grass-fed buffalo.

Mizu 212 is one of the few places that also offers seafood shabu shabu, including wild salmon, shrimp, scallops, crab and clams. The vegetables are super fresh and include cabbage, baby bok choy, carrots, asparagus, green onions, broccoli, kale, mushrooms, snow peas, kabocha squash and chrysanthemum leaves. They have delicious homemade ponzu and goma (sesame) sauces for dipping. Upon request, they can also make you a gluten- or sugar-free sauce. You can wash it all down with an artisan tea, premium sake, glass of wine or craft beer.

Mizu 212 is located at 2000 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles (in “Little Osaka” in West LA).

Seafood

Seafood


"Vintage Natural Beef" Prime Grade Rib-Eye

“Vintage Natural Beef” Prime Grade Rib-Eye


Sauces

Sauces

Vegetables, Noodles and Tofu

Vegetables, Noodles and Tofu


Shabulicious!

Shabulicious!



Mizu 212 on Urbanspoon

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Griddle Me This

Red Velvet Pancakes
In this era of small plates, carbon footprints and the ubiquitous Prius, it’s refreshing to find a place that shamelessly embraces excess. The Griddle Cafe on Sunset in Hollywood is such a place. It serves breakfast until 4:00 in the afternoon every day and the portions are large, ridiculously large.

The Griddle Cafe is best known for its pancakes, waffles and French toast, which come in dozens of varieties and are stuffed with things like butterscotch, peanut butter, crushed oreos, pumpkin pie filling, brown sugar-baked bananas and Nutella, and topped with whipped cream, powdered sugar or struesel (not to mention the maple syrup they give you to pour over the whole thing). Their signature dish is the “Red Velvet PanCAKE,” which is covered with swirls of cream cheese icing. Just one can feed a small army.

But despite the fun of the Willy Wonka-esqe menu, I’m not really a huge fan of these griddled monstrosities. I find them too sweet and prefer my flapjacks more refined. I usually opt instead for the egg specialties, such as the Tequila Sunrise (corn tortillas topped with refried beans, eggs sunnyside up, jack and cheddar cheeses, tequila spiked ranchero sauce, avocado and sour cream, and served with chicken tequila sausage). These savory dishes are not exactly “refined” either, but they won’t put you in a sugar coma for the rest of the day.

The Griddle Cafe is located at 7916 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood.

Wholy Moley Pancakes with Blueberries

Wholy Moley Pancakes with Blueberries

Tequila Sunrise (corn tortillas topped with refried beans, eggs sunnyside up, jack and cheddar cheese and covered with tequila spiked ranchero sauce and served with chicken tequila sausage

Tequila Sunrise (corn tortillas topped with refried beans, eggs sunnyside up, jack and cheddar cheeses, tequila spiked ranchero sauce, avocado and sour cream, and served with chicken tequila sausage)


A fun place for breakfast

A fun place for breakfast



The Griddle Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Bu-dee-licious

Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno
Nobu is a high-end sushi restaurant chain intent on world domination. It has 26 locations around the globe including Cape Town, Hong Kong, Milan and Moscow, and will open its first Nobu Hotel in Las Vegas in the next few weeks, with additional hotels to come in London, Riyadh and Bahrain. In LA, we have two locations; one in West Hollywood, which has the feel of a posh Vegas restaurant, and one in Malibu, which recently moved to fancier, beachfront digs and reminds me of a luxurious resort on a tropical island. Both locations have beautifully designed interiors, impeccable service and exorbitant prices.

The Nobu empire is helmed by Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, a master of modern Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, who blends traditional Japanese dishes with South American ingredients to spectacular effect. One of my favorite such dishes is Taradito (fluke or other sashimi with Peruvian rocoto sauce, lemon yuzu dressing and soy salt). I also love the Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno (pictured above), Black Cod with Miso and Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce. But while I’m a big fan of Nobu’s innovative fusion dishes, I’m less enamored of Nobu’s traditional sushi and can think of at least a dozen sushi bars in LA that serve better fish. Nobu does, however, have great desserts, such as the PB&J Satandagi with Warm Peanut Butter, Chocolate Satandagi, Peanut Butter Ice Cream and Plum Wine Gelee.

I don’t go to Nobu that often, mainly because my fusion-style sushi restaurant of choice is Katsu-ya, which is more casual and has many similar but more reasonably priced dishes. But for a special occasion when you don’t mind splurging and want to consume your sashimi concoctions in an oppulent setting, Nobu really can’t be beat. Nobu is located at 22706 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and 903 North La Cienega, Los Angeles (in West Hollywood).

Taradito

Taradito


Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Artichoke

Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Artichoke


Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce

Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce


Nobu Style Tacos with Wagyu Beef

Nobu Style Tacos with Wagyu Beef


Soft Shell Crab Roll, Uni Sushi and Crab Hand Rolls

Soft Shell Crab Roll, Uni Sushi and Crab Hand Rolls


PB&J Satandagi with Warm Peanut Butter, Chocolate Satandagi, Peanut Butter Ice Cream and Plum Wine Gelee

PB&J Satandagi with Warm Peanut Butter, Chocolate Satandagi, Peanut Butter Ice Cream and Plum Wine Gelee


Warm Pistachio Souffle with Amaretto and Hazelnut Gelato and Pine Nut Opaline

Warm Pistachio Souffle with Amaretto and Hazelnut Gelato and Pine Nut Opaline


The new Malibu location looks like a luxury resort.

The new Malibu location looks like a luxury resort.


Beautiful ocean view from the patio in Malibu

Beautiful ocean view from the patio in Malibu




Nobu Malibu on Urbanspoon
Nobu on Urbanspoon

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An American in Parish


Eastside hipsters who live Downtown and in Silverlake are different from Westside hipsters in Venice, and not just in terms of hat styles and facial hair. So when I heard that Casey Lane, venerated chef of The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney, was opening The Parish downtown, I wasn’t sure if Lane’s new venture would be able to replicate the success of his Venice eatery. So far, things look promising.

Like The Tasting Kitchen, The Parish has an uber-cool bar with an array of tasty cocktails, and is a destination for many solely to imbibe. And just as The Tasting Kitchen epitomizes the casual elegance of the Westside, The Parish has nailed the urban, retro-cool and slightly dangerous vibe of Downtown. I would describe its decor as “vintage hipster chic” and speakeasy-esque.

The cuisine at The Parish is elevated British gastropub fare. On the whole it’s very good, but not yet of the level of The Tasting Kitchen. My favorite dish is the Meat Pie with Sausage, Cheddar and Mashed Potatoes. It’s served in a delicious pot-shaped crust. I also love the Sauteed Corn with Basil, Chili, Chickpeas, Dill Aioli & Pecorino, as well as the Porchetta for Two with Cider Braised Cabbage & Salt Roasted Potatoes. But several of the other things I’ve had there are just OK and the desserts are disappointing. Nevertheless, for a fun evening, I recommend checking this place out. Don’t forget your fedora.

The Parish is located at 840 S. Spring St., Los Angeles (Downtown). 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!

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs


Almonds

Almonds


Pot of Pickles

Pot of Pickles


Marinated Figs with Basil, Arugula & Parmesan

Marinated Figs with Basil, Arugula & Parmesan


Grilled Shrimp with Moorish Carrots, Fried Chickpeas, Cured Black Olives & Mint Yogurt

Grilled Shrimp with Moorish Carrots, Fried Chickpeas, Cured Black Olives & Mint Yogurt


Poached Egg with Leeks, Lentils, Mustard Vinaigrette and Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Poached Egg with Leeks, Lentils, Mustard Vinaigrette and Parmesan Breadcrumbs


Grilled Branzino with Marinated Eggplant, Pea Tendrils and Olives

Grilled Branzino with Marinated Eggplant, Pea Tendrils and Olives


Porchetta for Two with Cider Braised Cabbage & Salt Roasted Potatoes

Porchetta for Two with Cider Braised Cabbage & Salt Roasted Potatoes


The Bishop's Roast (Whole Roasted Rotisserie Chicken with Chorizo, Farro and Currant Vinaigrette), served with a Growler of Black Market Contraband

The Bishop’s Roast (Whole Roasted Rotisserie Chicken with Chorizo, Farro and Currant Vinaigrette), served with a Growler of Black Market Contraband


Sauteed Corn with Basil, Chili, Chickpeas, Dill Aioli & Pecorino

Sauteed Corn with Basil, Chili, Chickpeas, Dill Aioli & Pecorino


Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding


Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake

Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake


Cocktails

Cool Cocktails


A dark, speakeasy vibe.

A dark, speakeasy vibe.



The Parish on Urbanspoon

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Farewell to Fine Dining


Nothing lasts forever and restaurants are certainly no exception. The first major restaurant casualty of the year is The Royce at The Langham Hotel in Pasadena, which will close its doors on January 26th. The sad thing about this shuttering is that The Royce is one of only four restaurants in the city that I would consider true fine dining establishments. The other three are Providence, Melisse and Saam at the Bazaar. While The Royce is my least favorite of this group, it has a lot of things going for it: a beautiful dining room in an elegant and romantic hotel, an amazing wine list (with a world-class sommelier and two wine rooms, one for red and one for white), and, most importantly, a tasting menu featuring truly excellent New American cuisine. It is currently helmed by talented French chef David Feau, and Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio of Ink was the chef in a previous incarnation of the restaurant a few years ago.

While Pasadena is beautiful and certainly a very wealthy area, I was always surprised that The Royce, with its cutting-edge cuisine, could sustain enough business in such an old-school part of town. Also, with traffic in this city, most Angelenos do not like to drive too far for dinner and Pasadena is a major schlep from many of the other affluent parts of LA, especially the Westside. Below are photos from my last meal at The Royce. If you want to dine there before it closes on January 26th, I suggest you make a reservation as soon as possible. The Royce at The Langham is located at 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena.

Trio of Amuse Bouches:  White Strawberry Espuma with Tatragon Spinach, Shaved White Strawberry & Bacon, Cherry Tomoato with Caramel, Salt & Pepper, and Butter Lettuce Cups, Tofu, Yuzu Ponzu, Garlic Chives

Trio of Amuse Bouches: White Strawberry Espuma with Tatragon Spinach, Shaved White Strawberry & Bacon, Cherry Tomoato with Caramel, Salt & Pepper, and Butter Lettuce Cups, Tofu, Yuzu Ponzu, Garlic Chives


"Yagara Fish \ Anise" -- Japanese imported Flute Fish, Heirloom Fennel, Black Rice Pickled Froth and Cucumber Flower

“Yagara Fish \ Anise” — Japanese imported Flute Fish, Heirloom Fennel, Black Rice Pickled Froth and Cucumber Flower


"White Asparagus \ Apricot" -- Chilled Asparagus Soup, Pickled Apricot, Arugula

“White Asparagus \ Apricot” — Chilled Asparagus Soup, Pickled Apricot, Arugula


"Ratatouille \ Tomato" -- Dehydrated Vegetable Ratatouille, Japanese Tomato, Lemon Basil, Squash Broth

“Ratatouille \ Tomato” — Dehydrated Vegetable Ratatouille, Japanese Tomato, Lemon Basil, Squash Broth


"Foie Gras \ Tarragon" --  Dry-Aged Beef "Bouillon," Foui Gras Fondue, Tarragon Printed Pasta, Crimini Mushroom

“Foie Gras \ Tarragon” — Dry-Aged Beef “Bouillon,” Foui Gras Fondue, Tarragon Printed Pasta, Crimini Mushroom


"Cepes / Chamomile" -- Porcini Filled Agnolotti, Curly Mustard Greens, Chamomile Jus

“Cepes / Chamomile” — Porcini Filled Agnolotti, Curly Mustard Greens, Chamomile Jus


"Halibut / French Leeks" -- "MR" Seared Halibut Filet, Ajo Dungeness Crab, Charred French Leeks

“Halibut / French Leeks” — “MR” Seared Halibut Filet, Ajo Dungeness Crab, Charred French Leeks


"Guinea Egg / Zucchini Blossom" -- Poached Guinea Hen Egg, Zucchini Blossom, English Pea Puree

“Guinea Egg / Zucchini Blossom” — Poached Guinea Hen Egg, Zucchini Blossom, English Pea Puree


"Wagyu / Mulberry" -- Wagyu Rib Eye Cut Double Seared, Swiss Chard Chorizo "Noodles," Bone Marrow Tempura, Mulberry Sauce

“Wagyu / Mulberry” — Wagyu Rib Eye Cut Double Seared, Swiss Chard Chorizo “Noodles,” Bone Marrow Tempura, Mulberry Sauce


"Fromage Frais / Herbes" -- Raw Cow's Milk Fresh Cheese "De Faiselle," Garlic Herbs, Sourdough Toast

“Fromage Frais / Herbes” — Raw Cow’s Milk Fresh Cheese “De Faiselle,” Garlic Herbs, Sourdough Toast


"Cherries / Sorrel" -- Sorrel Sorbet and Marinated Black Cherries, Mint - Vanilla

“Cherries / Sorrel” — Sorrel Sorbet and Marinated Black Cherries, Mint – Vanilla


"Fraises des Bois / Ginkgo Nut" -- Fraises des Bois "Salad," Frozen Yogurt, Caramelized Ginkgo Nut

“Fraises des Bois / Ginkgo Nut” — Fraises des Bois “Salad,” Frozen Yogurt, Caramelized Ginkgo Nut


"Chocolate / Cafe" -- Cocoa Minute Cake, Cajeta-Caramel, Warm Chocolate Curd, Cafe Glace

“Chocolate / Cafe” — Cocoa Minute Cake, Cajeta-Caramel, Warm Chocolate Curd, Cafe Glace


Milk Chocolate with Ground Espresso Beans, Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt, and White Chocolate with Espelete Pepper

Milk Chocolate with Ground Espresso Beans, Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt, and White Chocolate with Espelete Pepper


A beautiful, elegant room

A beautiful, elegant room


The Royce on Urbanspoon

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500 Days of Scones

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

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

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

Raspberry White Chocolate Scone

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


Chocolate Pear Scone from Clementine in Westwood

Chocolate Pear Scone from Clementine in Westwood


Bacon Scone from Republic of Pies in North Hollywood

Bacon Scone from Republic of Pies in North Hollywood


Maple Oatmeal Scone from Sweet Butter Kitchen in Sherman Oaks

Maple Oatmeal Scone from Sweet Butter Kitchen in Sherman Oaks


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

Blueberry and Jam Scone from Bricks and Scones in Larchmont


Campfire Scone from Short Cake in The Farmer's Market

Campfire Scone from Short Cake in The Farmer’s Market


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

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


Oatmeal Brown Butter Scone from Sycamore Kitchen in Mid-City

Oatmeal Brown Butter Scone from Sycamore Kitchen in Mid-City

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

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

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2012

Best LA Eats
2012 was a banner year food-wise in the City of Angels. Angelenos have never before had so many amazing restaurant options and I have tried to cover many of them on this blog. Of all the dishes that I wrote about in 2012, the following are my ten favorites; the ones that I happily dream about and crave pretty much all the time. Some of them were introduced at exciting and cutting-edge new local eateries this past year, while others are things that I have loved for years. Most are not “healthy choices,” so if you’re planning to make a New Year’s resolution to watch your weight, get to work; you only have a few days left to indulge!

Beef Roll

10. Beef Roll at 101 Noodle Express I’m crazy about this Northeastern Chinese delicacy made of thinly sliced and braised fatty beef with fresh chopped cilantro and sweet bean sauce rolled in a fried doughy Chinese pancake. It’s salty, crispy, beefy and incredibly delicious!

Papa Rellena

9. Papa Rellena at Porto’s Bakery & Cafe This Cuban treat (which I finally wrote about this past year) is essentially a ball of mashed potatoes which has been filled with seasoned ground beef and deep fried; kind of a spherical mini Shepherd’s Pie. Muy delicioso!

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuit

8. Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuit with Maple Butter at MB Post Even if you live in the Valley or the Eastside, these biscuits are reason alone to travel to Manhattan Beach. Served hot out of the oven with soft and sweet maple butter, they are outrageously good.

Maple Custard Pie

7. Maple Custard Pie at The Pie Hole The only dessert to make the list, this is possibly the best pie I have ever had. It is the perfect combination of a sublime buttery not-too-sweet crust and an incredible caramelized custardy filling. I only wish they sold it year round!

Fried Clams

6. Fried Clams at Sonny McLean’s Irish Pub I went on a mission this year to find authentic New England-style battered and fried “whole belly” Ipswich clams (not strips!) and was surprised to find the real deal at this little Boston Irish sports bar in Santa Monica. They’re wicked good!

Cuban Torta

5. Cuban Torta with Pork Terrine, Prosciutto, Provolone, Pickled Jalapeno & Mustard at Sunny Spot Of all the amazing dishes at Chef Roy Choi’s creative Caribbean-themed restaurant, this mouth-watering, non-traditional version of a Cuban sandwich is my favorite.

"Philly Cheesesteak"

“Philly Cheesesteak”

4. “Philly Cheesesteak” at The Bazaar The Bazaar is one of my favorite restaurants in the city and my favorite dish is this playful take on the Philadelphia classic sandwich. It’s made with “air bread” and cheddar cheese, and covered with thin slices of Wagyu beef and finely chopped chives.

Steak Tartare and Mustard Ice Cream

3. Steak Tartare and Mustard Ice Cream at Eat Drink Americano Savory and spicy mustard ice cream may not sound appealing on its own, but once mixed with a delectable steak tartare, the resulting flavor combination is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before and out of this world!

"The Toron" Bäco

2. “The Touron” Bäco at Bäco Mercat Each of Chef Josef Centeno’s original sandwich creations called “Bäcos” are works of culinary genius. However, the best in my opinion is The Touron with oxtail hash, pickle, potato & cheddar cheese on Bäco Mercat’s signature flatbread.

Gougere Sliders

Gougere Sliders

1. Gougere Sliders with Fried Oysters, Tartar Sauce, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Arugula” at Little Bear These little sandwiches on Greyere cheese puffs combine cheese, dough, bacon and fried oysters, so it’s not a total surprise that they are my favorite dish of the year. I love them!

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!

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Filed under Alhambra, Arcadia, Burbank, Culver City, Downey, Downtown, Glendale, Manhattan Beach, Mid-City, Santa Monica, Venice

Snack Attack


Superba Snack Bar is full of surprises, starting with its name since it’s not a snack bar (at least not in the traditional sense) and it’s not on Superba Avenue, but several blocks north, on Rose. It has savory chocolate pasta, as well as cauliflower masquerading as a t-bone steak. Its funky/chic exterior was inspired by French cafes, as well as Jeff Spicoli from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” But the biggest surprise is that this self-described “neighborhood joint” is so good, it has quickly become one of the best new restaurants in the city.

The food is all small plates with an emphasis on creative pastas. I recommend getting the tasting menu, but if you want to a-la-carte-it, I suggest ordering from each of the four sections of the menu: “Cold Cuts” (which are not all cold and include the excellent Superba Smoked Bacon & Membrillo), “Snacks” (the Fried Chicken is a must-have), “From Our Backyards” (vegetables and salads) and “From Our Hands” (pastas such as a surprisingly good Chocolate Papardelle and a delicious Chestnut Agnolotti).

As for vegetables dishes, I finally have an amazing recommendation for the vegetarian and vegan followers of this blog who keep reading every week despite my endless posts about bacon. The aforementioned Cauliflower T-Bone, which is topped with a parsley puree and an orange and olive pistou, looks and tastes like a juicy, well-seasoned steak. It’s one of the best things on the menu and one of the best vegetable dishes I have ever eaten. For dessert, I love the S’mores in a jar with smoked marshmallows and the Chocloate Peanut Butter Lava Cake.

Superba Snack Bar is located at 533 Rose Ave., Los Angeles (in Venice). They don’t take reservations except for parties of six or more ordering the tasting menu.

Pan con Tomato, Olive Oil & Sea Salt

Superba Smoked Bacon & Membrillo


Superba Fried Chicken, Red Wine Glaze, Pickled Chilies & Parmesan


Cauliflower T-bone, Parsley Puree, Orange & Olive Pistou


Chocolate Pappardelle, Oxtail, Cherries, Olives & Ricotta


Chestnut Agnolotti, Black Truffle Puree, Poached Quince & Sage


Pumpkin Pie, Gingersnap Crumble, Burrata Gelato


S’mores, Chocolate Pudding, Graham Cracker, Smoked Marshmallow


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Almond Crumble



Superba Snack Bar on Urbanspoon

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Best Mall Food Ever


Hanging out at a shopping mall is not my idea of a good time, especially during the holiday season. Parking is a pain, most of the chain stores are uninteresting and the food options are terrible. (I’m looking at you, Sbarro and Panda Express.) But lately I have a reason for frequenting the mall, or at least one mall in particular. I am head over heels in love with the Beef Rolls at 101 Noodle Express in Westfield Culver City.

This food court delicacy hails from the Shandong region in Northeastern China and consists of thinly sliced and braised fatty beef with fresh chopped cilantro and sweet bean sauce rolled in a fried doughy Chinese pancake. Salty, crispy and beefy, this dish checks a lot of boxes for me. It can be found not only at the Culver City Mall, but also at 101 Noodle Express’ two other locations in Arcadia and Alhambra.

While Beef Rolls are the standout dish, there are other great things on the menu. The Hot and Sour Soup is surprisingly good and the Soup Dumplings are definitely worth ordering. They’re not as good as the ones at Din Tai Fung, but they’re pretty damn tasty and the ones in Culver City are the best I’ve had without schlepping to the San Gabriel Valley.

101 Noodle Express is located at 6000 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City (in the Westfield Culver City Mall formerly known as the Fox Hills Mall), as well as 1025 Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia, and 1048 E. Valley Blvd. in Alhambra.

Soup Dumplings


Hot and Sour Soup


Food court excellence!



101 Noodle Express on Urbanspoon
101 Noodle Express on Urbanspoon
101 Noodle Express on Urbanspoon

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The Dynamic Duo


Many newly-formed couples made headlines in 2012: Kim & Kanye, Romney & Ryan, and Honey Boo Boo & TLC to name a few. But, to me, the most noteworthy new pairing of the year was Steak Tartare & Mustard Ice Cream. While raw beef and a scoop of frozen spicy dairy seem the unlikeliest of pairings, once mixed together, they transform into one the most incredible dishes I have ever tasted.

This ingenious coupling is the highlight of the menu at Eat Drink Americano, a cool little gastropub that opened downtown earlier this year. Located in an alley in the hipper-than-hip Downtown Arts District, just outside of Little Tokyo, the restaurant has a very cool industrial chic, steampunk-esque interior. It’s cozy, dark and intimate, with exposed brick walls, a giant graphic mural and a wine bottle chandelier.

The menu is eclectic and some items are much better than others. Besides the Steak Tartare and Mustard Ice Cream, I recommend the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich with wakame seaweed and saffron aioli on an English muffin. Other dishes, such as their “Third Street Salad” and the Classic Ceviche, are nothing to write home about. I love that they have an open kitchen, but they can use more than just two people working in it, as the service can be extremely slow. But if you order correctly, it’s definitely worth the wait.

Eat Drink Americano is located at 923 E. Third Street, Los Angeles (Downtown).

Craft Beer Sampler


Soft Shell Crab Sandwich with wakame seaweed and saffron aioli on an English muffin


Third Street Salad with butter lettuce, corn, black beans, bell pepper, tomato, red onion and a cilantro lime vinaigrette


Classic Ceviche with fresh caught yellowtail, peppers and choclo in a spicy citrus marinade


Exposed brick walls and a wine bottle chandelier



Eat.Drink.Americano on Urbanspoon

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Golden Battered Bliss


The home of my current food obsession is basically a parking lot with a tarp canopy, some cheap plastic tables and folding chairs, a couple deep fryers and a cash register. There’s no sign and the hours are very limited, but when they are open, there is almost always a line of hungry Angelenos, eager to devour a specialty of Ensenada, Mexico. The place is Ricky’s Fish Tacos in Silverlake and the tacos there are insanely good.

The menu consists of only Baja-style fish tacos (made with catfish), shrimp tacos and occasionally lobster tacos, as well as drinks including homemade agua fresca.  For his batter, owner Ricky Piña uses his grandmother’s recipe, which produces the most delicious, golden, crispy coating on the deep fried seafood.  The tacos are served on warm corn tortillas with shredded cabbage and pico de gallo made of fresh tomatos, onions and jalapenos.  To complete these incredible street delicacies, homemade salsas (mild tomatillo, medium tomato/garlic and spicy chipotle) and crema in plastic squeeze bottles are added by the customer to his or her liking. I usually order three and put a different salsa on each.

Ricky’s Fish Tacos is located at 1400 N. Virgil Ave., Los Angeles (in Silverlake).  Parking can be a bitch. UPDATE: Ricky’s was shut down by the Board of Health no doubt because of improper permitting (not a huge surprise). They plan to relocate soon.

Amazing Fish Tacos!


The shrimp and fish are fried right in front of you.


Spinach-Cucumber Agua Fresca


It’s under a tarp canopy in a parking lot.



Ricky's Fish Tacos (Food Stand) on Urbanspoon

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Totally Bazaar


Serving creative small plates of culinary genius in an ultra-cool setting, The Bazaar is one of the best and most unique upscale restaurants in the city. Helmed by master chef Jose Andres, the restaurant is situated adjacent to the uber-funky and modern lobby of the SLS Hotel, and consists of two contrasting dining areas: Blanca (white) which is sleek and elegant and Rojo (red) which is dark and intimate, like a lively little restaurant in Spain. There is an open kitchen and the whole restaurant exudes a party-like atmosphere.

I suggest starting your meal with one of The Bazaar’s innovative libations such as the Magic Mojito, which is poured into a glass filled with cotton candy, or the Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha, which is prepared tableside. An order of Sweet Potato Chips with Yogurt, Tamarind and Star Anise (pictured above) and the Pa’amb Tomaquet (Catalan-style Toasted Bread with Manchego Cheese and Tomato) are perfect complements to your cocktails.

Like the restaurant’s interior, the extensive menu at The Bazaar is bifurcated into two distinct sections. Half of your choices are expertly prepared traditional Spanish tapas, and the other half are “modern tapas” which include whimsical dishes, molecular gastronomy and other avant-garde offerings. I recommend ordering with a sense of adventure and getting a mix of dishes from both sides of the menu. On the traditional side, my favorite things are the Jamon Bechemel or Codfish Fritters and the Rossejat (Paella-style Pasta with Shrimp). On the modern side, the “Philly Cheesesteak” made with “air bread,” cheddar and Wagyu beef (or the vegetarian version with mushrooms called the “Hilly Cheesesteak”) is an absolute must-have. I also love the Tortilla de Patatas “New Way,” a deconstructed version of the typical Spanish dish made with potato foam, egg and caramelized onions, as well as the “Not Your Everyday Caprese,” a salad of cherry tomatoes and liquid mozzarella balls which dissolve in your mouth.

For dessert, you are moved (literally) to the Patisserie, which is situated in the rear of the hotel lobby and features a candy/pastry bar that looks like it’s right out of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” As with the savory part of your meal, the idea here is to order and experience an assortment of small bites, which includes tarts, cookies, bonbons and pates de fruits, as well as a few plated desserts. After dinner, it’s fun to explore the lobby’s unusual gift shop with museum-like displays of idiosyncratic art objects.

The Bazaar is located in the SLS Hotel at 465 S. La Cienega, Los Angeles (Mid-City near Beverly Hills and West Hollywood).

Jamon Bechemel Fritters


Catalan-style Toasted Bread, Manchego Cheese and Tomato


American Sturgeon Caviar Cone


Tortilla de Patatas “New Way” with Potato Foam, Egg 63 and Caramelized Onions


“Not Your Everyday Caprese” with Cherry Tomatoes and Liquid Mozzarella


Local Persimmon and Seaweed Salad with Olive Oil Yogurt and Sesame


Smoked Yellowtail and Crispy Rice with Yogurt, Grapes, Capers and Radish


Ceviche and Avocado Roll with Jicama, Micro Cilantro and Coconut


Sea Urchin with Avocado on Steamed Buns


Ottoman Carrot Fritters with Apricots and Pistachio Sauce


Rossejat (Paella-style Pasta with Shrimp)


Seared Squid with Artichokes and Chicken Escabeche


Seared Scallops with Romesco Sauce


Codfish Fritters with Honey Aioli


Baby Japanese Peaches with Di Stefano Burrata, Hazelnuts and Arugula


“Philly Cheesesteaks” with Air Bread, Cheddar and Wagyu Beef


Cava Sangria, which was prepared tableside


Apples “Carlota” — Bread Pudding with Saffron Sauce


Hot Chocolate Mousse with Pear Sorbet and Salty Hazelnut Praline


Bonbons, Mini-Tablettes and Pates de Fruits


Patisserie



The Bazaar By José Andrés on Urbanspoon

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10 Best Sub Sandwich Shops in LA


Subs, Grinders, Hoagies, Po-Boys, Heroes, Submarines. Whatever you call them, they’re a central part of the national diet, especially for lunch. A long roll filled with deli meats and/or cheese along with toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes or peppers, and condiments such as mustard and olive oil sounds like a simple thing to make, but discerning eaters know that not all deli sandwiches are created equal.

When I started this blog, I declared the Godmother at Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery the best sandwich in LA. While I still believe this is true today, for other varieties such as a Caprese or Pastrami sub, I prefer All About the Bread on Melrose Ave., which was clearly inspired by Bay Cities but has shorter lines. Both places have unbelievably amazing, crispy and chewy artisan bread which is baked fresh every 20 or 30 minutes, use Boar’s Head meats and fashion extraordinary combos of bread, meat and cheese using the freshest and tastiest ingredients. While these two places are my clear favorites, there are several others in this city worth visiting. After an extensive amount of carb-loading research, here are my top ten favorite sub sandwich joints in LA:

All About the Bread

#1 (tie) All About the Bread (7111 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles near West Hollywood) The name pretty much says it all. I’ve loved every sandwich I’ve had here, but my favorite is the Buratta with Sundried Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, Homemade Pesto, Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers. It’s one of the best things ever.

The Godmother from Bay Cities

#1 (tie). Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery (1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica) The insanely good bread is the secret to their huge success. My favorite sub is The Godmother (Genoa Salami, Mortadella, Capicolla, Ham, Prosciutto and Provolone) with “The Works.” I challenge you to find a better sandwich.

Dan’s Super Subs

#3 Dan’s Super Subs (22446 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills) It’s one of the only restaurants that I love in the West Valley. Their delicious bread has sesame seeds and is steamed for each order. Subs are completed with Dan’s signature chopped tomatoes and pickle spears. Not open on Sundays.

The Jose Andres aka “The Spanish Godfather” at Ink Sack

#4 Ink Sack (8360 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles in West Hollywood) Celebrity Chef Michael Voltaggio’s sandwich shop serves creative versions of classic subs. My favorite is The Jose Andres aka “The Spanish Godfather,” which is named after Voltaggio’s mentor and former boss at The Bazaar. It’s made with Serrano Ham, Chorizo and Manchego Cheese.

Storefront

#5 Storefront (4624 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles in Los Feliz) This Eastside hipster sandwich shop is the new kid on the block and was opened only a few weeks ago by the chefs of Salt’s Cure. I am already impressed with “The Mousa” (pictured above), their Italian deli meat sub which includes picked cayenne peppers.

The No. 3 from Larchmont Village Wine Spirits & Cheese

#6 Larchmont Village Wine Spirits & Cheese (223 N Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles in Mid-City) This gourmet wine and cheese shop has some of the city’s best Italian sandwiches, which are served on either a crusty baguette or soft ciabatta. They all come with a nice little side of olives and cornichons.

Mike’s Deli

#7 Mike’s Deli 4859 W Slauson Ave, Los Angeles in South LA) There are very few tables and it’s generic and fast food-esque in appearance, but this simple deli makes simply great subs with top-notch ingredients including Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. A second location opened recently in Little Tokyo.

The Spicy Italian Sub from Mario’s

#8 Mario’s Italian Deli & Market (740 E Broadway in Glendale) A Glendale institution, Mario’s is an old-school Italian market with all sorts of imported goodies and a very popular deli. They cut their sub rolls in thirds lengthwise, so that there is a “mezzanine” layer of bread in your sandwich between two layers of filling.

Busy Bee Market

#9 Busy Bee Market (2413 S Walker Ave, San Pedro) If you’re in the South Bay, it’s the place to go. This unassuming deli counter in a small and rundown-looking neighborhood market turns out excellent subs on super-soft bread. But be warned: it’s cash only, take-out only, and they’re closed on Sundays.

“The Sandwich” from Roma Italian Deli & Grocery

#10 Roma Italian Deli & Grocery (918 N. Lake Ave, Pasadena) Enter this little Italian market, go to the counter on your right and ask diminutive elderly Rosario to make you “The Sandwich.” Watch as he prepares it with fresh meats and cheese and no toppings or condiments other than olive oil. Consume and enjoy.

UPDATE: I’m sad to report that Storefront has closed. If you enjoy Consuming LA, subscribe for free at the top right of this page and you’ll get an email once a week when I post. And please forward this to your friends, repost on facebook and retweet!

All About the Bread on Urbanspoon
Busy Bee on Urbanspoon
Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese on Urbanspoon
Roma Italian Deli & Grocery on Urbanspoon
Mario's Italian Deli & Market on Urbanspoon
Dan's Super Subs on Urbanspoon
Mike's Deli on Urbanspoon
Mike's Deli #2 on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Fairfax, Glendale, Inglewood, Ladera Heights, Larchmont, Los Feliz, Mid-City, Pasadena, San Pedro, Santa Monica, South Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Woodland Hills

Haute Stuff


If you’ve read my Manifesto, you know I believe that Los Angeles is the most exciting food city in the world right now.  But with that said, there’s one thing that’s sorely lacking here.  There is a surprising dearth of fine dining restaurants in this city; places that offer very high end cuisine, a tasting menu, a sommelier, impeccable service and an elegant and romantic atmosphere. One of the few such places that we do have is Melisse. Helmed by master chef Josiah Citrin, Melisse serves gorgeous plates of contemporary French cuisine and offers a world-class wine list. The food is refined and innovative, and the offerings change nightly.

Dinner at Melisse is not just a meal, it’s an experience, and one that typically lasts between 3 1/2 and 4 hours, especially if you get one of the lengthier tasting menus. One of Chef Citrin’s signature dishes is “Egg Caviar,” a cut eggshell with a layer of runny yolk at the bottom, a layer of lemon-chive creme fraiche in the middle and a pile of American Osetra caviar on top. When all mixed together, it is a spectacular taste sensation. Other dishes I love are the unusual Fennel Flan with Orange Gelee, Cashew Foam and Vanilla, the incredible Maine Lobster Bolognese with Fresh Capellini, Truffle Froth & Grated Black Truffle, and the perfectly cooked Filet of Beef and Braised Cheek with Potato Pave and Puree, Mustard Greens, Bearnaise and Red Wine Braising Jus. As you would expect, a meal at Melisse is not inexpensive. So for most of us, this is a special occasion restaurant; the perfect place to celebrate an important birthday, anniversary or job promotion, and live large for a few hours.

Melisse is located at 1104 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica.

Amuse Bouche: Salmon Skin with Cured Salmon and Salmon Roe


Fennel Flan with Orange Gelee, Cashew Foam and Vanilla


Egg Caviar with Poached Egg, Lemon-Chive Creme Fraiche and American Osetra Caviar


Blue Fin Tuna with Abalone Gelee, Rhubarb, Fennel & Finger Lime


Hot and Cold Foie Gras with Blueberry, Ginger and Hazelnut (off the menu now because of the foie gras ban)


Artichoke Truffle Agnolotti with Charred Leek-Orange Blossom Jus

Maine Lobster Bolognese with Fresh Capellini, Truffle Froth & Grated Black Truffle


Seared Hokkaido Scallop with Salsify, Toasted Barley and Vadouvan


Filet of Beef and Braised Cheek with Potato Pave and Puree, Mustard Greens, Bearnaise and Red Wine Braising Jus


Liberty Duck Breast with Confit of Blood Oranges and Turnips, Spiced Couscous and Sauce Bigarade


Chocolate, Caramel & Strawberry

The dining room is elegant, romantic and understated.



Melisse on Urbanspoon

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Devil Got Your Tongue


The Michelada has been my favorite drink of late. Popular throughout Latin America, a Michelada is a beer cocktail with lime juice, assorted sauces, spices and peppers. Diablo, a new gastropub in Silverlake, serves really excellent Micheladas with a twist. The beer of your choice is poured into a tall glass with a heavily salted and spiced rim and is accompanied by a tomato or yuzu popsicle, which you can dip and/or suck on between sips or simply submerge into your beer to melt.

The unusual Micheladas are not the only great thing about Diablo. The food there is exceptionally good. The main focus of the menu is gourmet fusion tacos. While fusion tacos are nothing new in LA and are served by at least half of the gourmet food trucks on the streets of this city, the tacos at Diablo stand out due to their high-end seasonal ingredients and their unique combinations of sweet and savory. My favorite is the Maple Fried Chicken Taco with Purple Kale and Red Rooster Vinaigrette. It’s salty, sweet, crunchy and incredibly good! I also love the Pork Belly Taco with Thai Peanut Salsa and Caramelized Bananas, and the Beef Cheeks Taco with Horseradish Puree, Fromage Blanc and Parsley. Vegetarian and vegan options are numerous and include the “Portabello Asada” and “Hen of the Woods” Tacos.

The layout and decor of Diablo are very similar to that of Wurstkuche. It’s industrial chic with lots of brick, metal and reclaimed wood. You order and pay at a counter in one room and your food is brought to you in a large Biergarden-esque dinng hall with a very long communal table and several smaller tables. In addition to the tacos, I also recommend ordering the Grilled Sweet Corn with Cojita, Lime Mayo and Truffle Oil and the Heirloom Radish Salad with Persian Cucumber, Jicama, Chili, Lime and Apple. For dessert, there are more popsicles. One is Hibiscus-flavored, while another is made with Chocolate, Espresso and Bacon. Speaking of bacon, there’s also a Chocolate, Bacon, Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Cookie served warm out of the oven. If you’re just going there for drinks, I suggest you order the Kurabuta Pork Chicharrones (fried pork rinds) with one of Diablo’s homemade sauces such as the Habanero Gasoline Sauce or the Ghost Chili Aioli. They’re devilishly good and the perfect accompaniment to the Popsicle Micheladas.

Diablo is located at 3129 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (in Silverlake).

Michelada with Tomato Popsicle (Beer with Lime, Chili, Salt and Tomato Paleta)


Heirloom Radish Salad with Persian Cucumber, Jicama, Chili, Lime and Apple


Grilled Sweet Corn with Cojita, Lime Mayo and Truffle Oil


Pork Belly Taco with Thai Peanut Salsa and Caramelized Bananas


Beef Cheeks Taco with Horseradish Puree, Fromage Blanc and Parsley


Maple Fried Chicken Taco with Purple Kale and Red Rooster Vinaigrette


Bison Chili Taco with Yellow Cheese and Banana Peppers


Kurabuta Pork Chicharrones with Diablo “Ketchup”


Warm Chocolate, Bacon, Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Cookie


Diablo describes itself as an “Urban Taco Fabricator and Crafter of Fine Micheladas”



Diablo Taco on Urbanspoon

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A Sweet Shave


One of the best things about eating dinner on Sawtelle Boulevard in West LA aka “Little Osaka,” is that after your meal, there are fun Japanese shops to visit, karaoke if you’re in the mood, and most importantly, half a dozen dessert places to satisfy the need for something sweet. My favorite such dessert place is Blockheads Shavery, which opened this past year and serves something truly unique; a frozen confection that they call “Snow Cream.” Snow Cream is a cross between shaved ice and ice cream. Large frozen blocks of flavored and sweetened cream are shaved to order on a machine, resulting in a delicious treat with a very unusual texture. It’s a fluffy mass of icy thin sheets folded on top of each other.

Here’s how to order: First you select one of the flavors, which typically include chocolate, coffee, strawberry, black sesame, green tea, peanut butter and their “original” flavor which reminds me of Pinkberry original. Next you select which topping you want. There are Asian-style toppings such a egg custard, red beans, almond jelly and lychees, as well as the more typical yogurt toppings such as Oreos, Reese’s Pieces, nuts, brownie bites, and fresh berries. Regardless of which flavor of Snow Cream you get, I highly recommend the homemade rice cakes. They are chewy and delciously glutinous; an absolute must-have. Finally, you select a “drizzle” such as condensed milk, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, strawberry puree or mango puree. If you have trouble choosing, don’t worry; there is almost always a long line at Blockheads so you have plenty of time to decide.

Blockheads Shavery is located at 11311 Mississippi Ave., Los Angeles (in West LA).

Original Snow Cream with Egg Custard, Toffee Crunch and Caramel Sauce


Makin’ Snow Cream


A cool little dessert place in Little Osaka



Blockheads Shavery Co on Urbanspoon

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I Melt For You


This place is a nice find. Named after the 16th Century playwright/poet who wrote that “the moon is made of green cheese,” Heywood is a cool little Silverlake joint that essentially serves only one thing: grilled cheese sandwiches accompanied by tomato soup and salad. For so many of us, grilled cheese and tomato soup is a childhood favorite; the ultimate comfort food prepared lovingly for us by our mothers, especially on a cold or rainy day. No offense to your mother, but the sandwiches and soup at Heywood are better.

The grilled cheese sandwiches here are gourmet versions of the classic. You can build your own and choose from ten different cheeses (including an aged English cheddar, a triple cream French brie, and a cotswold), five different kinds of bread and more than a dozen add-ons and artisan spreads including bacon, maple onion confit and raspberry habanero jam. Or you can choose from one of the pre-designed models such as the Tres Truffle Shuffle (country white bread, Appenzeller Swiss cheese, aged English cheddar, Pointe Reyes blue cheese and a dash of truffle salt) or my favorite, the Muy Caliente (fontina and spicy jack cheeses melted on top of sliced jalapenos, fresh cream cheese and crunchy tortilla strips on sourdough bread). Not to be relegated to the role of mere sidekick, the tomato bisque at Heywood is the best tomato soup I have ever had; no exaggeration. It’s perfectly spiced and has small bits of roasted tomatoes and peppers in it. Every sandwich comes with a tiny bowl of this soup, as well as a side salad. They also offer vintage sodas and a few desserts including a decadent S’Mores Bar by Motherfudger Fudge.

One word of warning: Heywood is a tiny place and it can be hard to get a table at lunchtime. It would be great if they installed a counter for additional seating. It’s cool that they’re open late (until 3am on Friday and Saturday) so you can hit them up after a concert or a night of hipster bar hopping in Silverlake. Would your mom grill you a sandwich so late at night? I don’t think so.

Heywood is located at 3337 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles (in Silverlake).

The best tomato soup I’ve ever had


Half sandwich with soup and salad


I’ll take a Lemmy!


Motherfudger Fudge S’Mores Bar


A Gourmet Grilled Cheese Shoppe in Silverlake



Heywood: A Grilled Cheese Shop on Urbanspoon

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Taster’s Choice


Bike riding on the beach with friends in Santa Monica, summiting Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood Hills and taking in the stellar views, strolling down Abbot Kinney in flip-flops with your dog and an iced latte; this is the Southern California good life and I love it. One restaurant that I think really epitomizes this lifestyle is The Tasting Kitchen in Venice. This place exudes casual elegance. The decor is both modern and rustic chic with a tree growing in the middle of the dining room. The plates are cool and vintage-looking. The atmosphere is fun; relaxed yet sophisticated, like a great dinner party at a friend’s beach house. And most importantly, the food is across-the-board excellent.

You should start your meal with a cocktail or two. Bartender Justin Pike was named LA’s top mixologist last year and prepares killer libations such as the Staycation (tequila, watermelon shrub and soda), the Summer Assassin (bourbon, allspice, maple and cava) and Coco Joe’s Punch (a tiki-style drink with rum, cardamon and citrus). The dinner menu, which changes daily, features rustic, seasonal and ingredient-driven cuisine from super-talented chef Casey Lane. I suggest that you take your cue from the name of the restaurant and order one of the tasting menus. If you order a la carte, I recommend the Beets with Creme Fraiche and Horseradish, the Gigli Pasta with Luciana and Squash Blossoms, the Tortelli Pasta with Hen Sauce and Maitake Mushrooms, and the Salt Roasted Branzino if available. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the Doughnut with Buttermilk Gelato, Figs and Walnuts. The restaurant also has a great weekend brunch.

The Tasting Kitchen is located at 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice.

Amuse Bouche: Lobster Bisque


Porcini Crudo with Prosciutto and Cherries


Aragosta alla Griglia (Grilled Lobster Tails)


Beets with Creme Fraiche and Horseradish


Butter Lettuces with Tarragon and Point Reyes Cheese


Lentils and Rapini


Tortelli Pasta with Hen Sauce and Maitake Mushrooms


Gigli Pasta with Luciana and Squash Blossoms


Salt Roasted Branzino


Roasted Chicken


Cherry Almond Gelato


Deconstructed Ricotta Cheesecake


Caramel Bread Pudding


Doughnut with Buttermilk Gelato, Figs and Walnuts


Chocolate-covered Cookies and Sugar Cookies


Great cocktails



The Tasting Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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