When you get approached to reminisce about a certain time and place, nay, a certain chef and his concept – on-camera – you know you’ve been hit with something very special. In the present age of reality TV, of course, you might have suspicions it could be exploitive, but then you know the show. And multi-Emmy-award-winning Mind of a Chef just so happens to be one of your favorite shows on cooking and the culture of food.
Furthermore, when you hear that the particular episode you’re asked to be a part is about LudoBites, and you’ll get to experience Ludo recreating a few dishes right in his own brand new kitchen. you know that it’s going to be good. There’s just so much to unpack, there.
Los Angeles has been a phenomenal place to eat for the duration of 2015. In fact, it’s been really hard to keep up with everything going on in all parts of the city, but what a great problem to have. Better food is available in more neighborhoods, helping raise the standard of dining out in all parts. Hopefully all parts, anyway. We do have our native Roy Choi, doing what he can to make sure such positive change reaches otherwise forgotten neighborhoods, with his and Daniel Patterson’s project, LocaL.
But for all the Fig & Olives of the see-and-be-seen L.A. dining scene, there have been some indisputable favorites of mine to rise to the top. I see 2015 as the year we’ve surpassed the huffing and puffing about authenticity and what that even means for all the history and diversity we have in this city. It’s been exciting to taste how we’ve moved beyond all that to a place and time where chefs can confidently make their mark using flavors from all over the world as their paintbrushes.
So read on, and get to it. 2016 is just around the corner:
Apologies for not updating the blog, but here’s a post to push its revival into the New Year. Here I come, 2016! This week, I’ll be posting a round-up of sorts on 2015 and noteworthy dishes at noteworthy restaurants.
In any case, feel free to catch up with a few of my freelance articles, and my comments forthwith, that I wrote for other online publications the latter half of 2015 here. Also, a plug to follow me on other social media channels, which I’ve been updating pretty regularly: Instagram, Twitter, and eventually Snapchat (@estar_la)!
A personal essay I wrote for Eater National. It’s crazy how ever since Fresh Off the Boat aired, we’ve gotten Dr. Ken and Netflix’s Master of None as far as Asian American representation on TV. After a lifetime of not seeing hardly anyone who was even the same shade I am on TV, 2015 felt like jackpot:
During Eater LA’s Cheap Eats week, I culled a memory from my college days, commuting from Westwood to Alhambra just for boba milk tea and fried pork chop. For Cocktail Week, I rounded up some sherry-based cocktails as well as cocktai
I did a few round-ups for Time Out Los Angeles, a couple of which were on the sandwich beat. We’re talking extensive, exhaustive research, here. Let’s put it this way: I haven’t had a pastrami or banh mi for quite awhile. Dim Sum? Plenty.
The sun is out – when June Gloom isn’t in, that is. But when the high of summer arrives, you’ll bet it’ll be time for that picnic. Whether at The Hollywood Bowl, Cinespia or Barnsdall Art Park, picnicking in Los Angeles has become more than a rite of passage. It’s now an act of communal expression, with everyone in the party bringing their own contribution to the portable, potable feast.
There are always plenty fo reasons to visit Hungry Cat, but the location in Santa Monica has put a new focus on their wood-fired menu, thanks to their brand new wood-burning grill and rotisserie. The result is an amazing array of seafood and other menu items that take on a whole new dimension of flavor.
If you haven’t been to Short Cake at The Original Farmer’s Market for some breakfast pastries and Verve coffee, you’re definitely missing out. I recently visited head baker Ivan Marquez, who has been there for a year now, for a run-down on what’s been going on.
The pastries are almost like a weather vane, revealing what’s seasonal, and what’s available from our local farms – but the most important thing is they’re all always delicious. The bear claw, the danish, the tart, Pan Suisse, crostata, and almost everything else change every single day. Of course, he uses only the best quality ingredients with organic dairy and farmers market produce in all his baking.
Memories of hot pot have always involved family and friends around one or two boiling pots of broth on hot plates, set upon the dining room table and enjoyed over conversation, often during the holidays such as Lunar New Year. Sometimes, it was simply the way my mom handled a meal when there were going to be a lot of people coming over for dinner. Raw cut meats, vegetables, bean thread noodles, and tofu were laid out on the table, waiting their turn to get dunked, cooked, then retrieved before being dipped into a personal bowl of XO sauce beat with a raw egg, and eaten.
If you’ve been following the third season of The Taste on ABC, you’re familiar with contestant Vanessa Lauren of Team Bourdain. Eliminated on last week’s semi-finale (ep. 6), Vanessa has somewhat since defected to Team Ludo – in the sense that since taping this season’s episodes, she’s been in Ludo Lefebvre’s kitchens at Trois Mec and now Petit Trois. I sat down with Vanessa Lauren and Chef Ludo the other day in anticipation of The Taste finale, which airs tonight.
It was a thankfully mild Sunday in Chinatown, and Grand Central Plaza was filled with red tents under which chefs, cooks, brewers, bartenders and vendors doled out Sriracha-themed exclusives to enthusiasts of the celebrated, local Rooster sauce. Whether the food and drink were evocative of or complementary to the red jalapeno chili sauce, there was no shortage of flavor to be found on that block between Broadway and Hill.