The Best Things I Ate in 2015

Branzino, Maré

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:

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Links: e*starLA Elsewhere in 2015

Catch & Release, Marina del Rey

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)!

Happy reading. I’ll catch you guys with another 2015 update tomorrow.

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
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Bánh Mì My-Tho
304 W Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801

Phorage
3300 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Catch & Release
13488 Maxella Ave
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Langer’s Delicatessen
704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Wexler’s Deli, GCM
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Old Country Cafe
2 E Valley Blvd #1e
Alhambra, CA 91801

Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village
250 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Zankou Chicken
5065 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Fantastic Sandwiches at Torta Company

Milanesa (breadded chicken) Torta comes with a layer of frijol

There are a lot of choices available in the food court at Fig and 7th in Downtown L.A., but only two stands offers a myriad of excellent Mexico City fare. Jimmy Shaw’s fifth installation of Loteria! Grill stands next to the very first Torta Company, a collaboration with his brother Andy that has finally come to fruition after many years of recipe-testing and planning. And while many don’t know it, we Angelenos are so very lucky to have access to such a fine product as Jimmy and Andy’s tortas.

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Lunch at POT Moves to The Line Hotel Lobby

Noodle of the Day: Bibim Gooksu (chilled somen noodles, bibim sauce, vegetables)

With the migration of lunchtime at POT to the lobby of The Line Hotel in Koreatown, gone is the enclosed, smoky and cavernous setting that we’ve come to know as the Korean restaurant experience. In the daytime, anyway. It’s a smart move, to be sure, more conducive to the power lunch, and the menu is nonetheless a delightful range of authentic to hybrid, but always tastefully imaginative.

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Nine Noteworthy Upcoming Los Angeles Food & Drink Events

Glimpses of Unmissable Upcoming Events

Let me take this first post in almost one month to deliver some pertinent upcoming event news. It’s now summer and thus, event season, here in sunny Southern California. Now that I’ve somewhat psychologically recovered from a huge picture-data dump from spilling a homemade cocktail all over my non-backed-up laptop, I’m finally ready to move into this crazy part of the year.

So here’s a rebirth of sorts; it’s an intentional start to the summer by tallying up the essential food events continuing into the fall (L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade is in September). One focuses on cocktails. One focuses on tacos. One focuses on ribs. Three are on the same day; thus, yes – I do wish that these were spread out, more. But practically all of them feature world-class chefs. So without further adieu, here’s where you need to be this summer:

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Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese Serving Up Classics and Much More

The Classic with Tomato Basil Dip

As April and thus, National Grilled Cheese Month, comes to a close, I have come to realize that: 1) This classic sandwich needs no one to vouch for its deliciousness the rest of the year, and 2) Who has time to keep track of the celebratory day or month of every food in existence, anyway? (Oh right: Thank you, PR pitches.)

After all, the sandwich has had its own Invitational here for years on end, to somewhat sadly conclude this year as we food enthusiasts find other foods and combinations of food to fawn over. But let’s not forget that as there have been multiple storefronts dedicated to cupcakes and only cupcakes, for a very long time, dedicated grilled cheese slingers has also become a thing.

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First Taste: Exclusives at The Oinkster in Hollywood, Open Today

Pork Adobo Burger with garlic aioli & Onion Rings

The long-awaited Hollywood location of Andre Guerrero’s The Oinkster has finally opened. On the east side of Vine, sitting north of Melrose Avenue, the new 3,000-square foot space seats more than 100 people in its open design concept by Design, Bitches and includes two-tops all the way to communal seating – as well as an open air, dog-friendly patio with heat lamps.

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First Taste: Pine & Crane Tailors Taiwanese Dishes to Silver Lake

Pine & Crane Storefront in Sunset Triangle Plaza

As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, I often wondered during childhood how different my life would’ve been if, like many of their classmates in Southern Taiwan, my parents had settled in Arcadia, California instead of New Berlin, Wisconsin. My only access to Taiwanese (adamantly never Chinese) food was through my Mom’s cooking.

As the 4th of 4 kids, though, my parents were financially able to travel by the time I rolled around, and I luckily traveled to California and Taiwan often to keep somewhat in contact with my roots. As my palate matured and diversified over the years, it was also groomed for the innate craving for noodles, broth and spice I continually have today.

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First Taste: Superba Food + Bread in Venice Opens Tomorrow

Seared Arctic Char, Snap Peas, Rhubarb, Mint

Tomorrow, Superba Food + Bread opens along Lincoln Boulevard, a little further inland than its counterpart, Superba Snack Bar.

It’s a beautiful space with an open feel and just enough green, canary yellow and white throughout to accentuate its abundance of natural daylight and high ceilings. Whereas the Snack Bar employed delicious pastas, Paul Hibler’s Food + Bread will showcase a vast repertoire of…well, bread. Delicious, gluten-full bread.

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Adam Perry Lang’s Serious Barbecue in the Jimmy Kimmel Live! Back Lot

Serious Barbecue – Pork Shoulder, Beef Ribs

While I have had a lot of close calls, I recently came upon what I can honestly call “the best barbecue” I’ve had in my entire life. And I owe that honor to a summer-long residency by Adam Perry Lang, who currently lives (that’s what the Airstream is for), cooks and feeds serious barbecue seekers on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! backlot in Hollywood.

From now until September 5th, he’ll be serving up his pecan wood-smoked specialties every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for lunch. Everything in this awesome ‘cue is made from scratch (okay, perhaps not the meats), from the charcoal in the Texas burn pit to his 2-ton, custom pit smoker – and even the cutlery, which he literally carves himself.

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