Over the weekend, I had the chance to meet not one, but three, Michelin-starred chefs from Hong Kong. They included Chef Kwai-Pui Mak of Tim Ho Wan, Chef Mango Tsang of Ming Court in Langham Place and Chef Kam-Fu Cheng of Celebrity Cuisine. During an exclusive event with industry and media, I learned a little bit about their mission to spread the word about all things Hong Kong – but especially cuisine – to Los Angeles.
While Chef Mango Tsang, the fine dining guru and Marathon-runner of the trio, lamented some of the dishes didn’t come out quite right because of the unpredictability of American ingredients, I thought everything – including his fried shrimp cake and a chicken paste – tasted delicious. Unfortunately, you can only expect to get the real thing while visiting each of the chefs’ restaurants in their native Hong Kong.
Chef Kam-fu Cheng, who first became popular through his private dining business, fixed a delicious crab claw. My favorite bite of the sampler, by Chef Kwai-pui Mak, had to be the char siu bao, or pork bun. The bun had this flaky yet chewy consistency to it that I hadn’t had anywhere else and made for probably the best pork bun I had had anywhere. His tenure at Lung King Hin inside the Four Seasons Hong Kong saw three Michelin stars, and his Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum restaurant received one star within a year of opening, so I can see why his dim sum is top notch.
Overall, it was a not-to-be-missed opportunity to see the top Hong Kong chefs right here in Los Angeles. It’s opened my eyes to the possibilities of a trip to Hong Kong, undoubtedly a culinary wonderland. Now if I can see, taste and experience it for myself…!
If you’re at all curious about how the Hong Kong chefs regard Chinese food in L.A., you’d best be on the lookout for the update from Jonathan Gold, who took them out to dim sum during one of their rare chances at off-time.
Chef Kwai- Pui Mak at Tim Ho Wan
Shop 72, G/F.
Tai Kok Tsui, Kowloon (Olympian MTR Station)
Chef Mango Tsang at Ming Court
555 Shanghai Street
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Chef Kam-Fu Cheng at Celebrity Cuisine
1/F, Lan Kwai Fong Hotel
3 Kau U Fong, Central
What happens when you take an iconic, American food known for consisting of meat trimmings, fat and preservatives and reinvent it utilizing top notch ingredients and dress them up with imaginative combinations – before framing it all in a delicious bun?
You get Fritzi Dog, now at its first outpost in The Original Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax, serving up awesome dogs and sausages made with prime cuts sourced from veggie-fed, humanely treated animals. What you won’t find are snouts, tails, antibiotics, added nitrates nor mechanically separated meat. “You’ll find the same quality of ingredients [at Fritzi Dog] as you’ve found at [my other restaurants] Grace or BLD,” Neal states. Continue reading →
Back in the Fall, I made a little getaway to a familiar area (no, I won’t use that word that begins with “stay” and ends with “-tion”). It was a welcome chance to really explore what I already thought I knew, and the Hotel Wilshire was the perfect home base.
The Hotel Wilshire is walking distance to LACMA, but also to Petersen Automotive Museum. Both museums are the venues of so many cultural events, which makes the hotel seem like a great place for out-of-town visitors to establish their base or for locals to crash after a nearby gala. The rotating exhibits make it perfect for locals to visit time and time again.
Mark your calendars, walkers, runners, bikers and proud Angelenos. You won’t want to miss the Great LA Walk this Saturday. It’s a 17-mile walk from Downtown LA to the Pacific Ocean. It’s a way to say, “People DO walk in LA.” It’s a day-long appreciation of this city, whether you’re stopping for lunch, walking through one of countless urban enclaves, learning little-known facts about a historical landmark or stopping in to see a shop you’ve never even heard of before. Let’s be honest: It’s also bragging rights.
And this year, it’s a way to really get to know Melrose Avenue.
The 10-year-old Grove was built to be the Anti-Mall. Everything, from the height of each streetlight down to the exact height of the curb is so calculated so as to appear as if it were…not. It’s a collection of stores within the same structure, but meticulously manufactured to evoke a stroll down the street – with fake snow in the “winter,” to boot. But that is the masterpiece that is The Grove, and its success at that intangibly cozy feel doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.
Brunch remains the fruition of the ultimate Southern Californian snub – a meal Angeleno dilettantes could fit into their schedules almost any day of the year if they wanted to, and on an outdoor patio, at that. While I once considered the tweener meal synonymous with a certain 3rd Street spot known as much for their celebrity sightings as for their fruit cup and egg dishes, brunch has become a fact of life. There is now no shortage of restaurants – most of whom don’t even offer lunch service on the weekdays – who open early on the weekends for brunch. It’s become a ritual, a pastime that has become justification for that Friday or Saturday night hangover. With that comes competition and an audience that is no longer enamored with the existence of eggs on the menu.
I think a gal can be considered lucky when she has top-notch bartenders within walking distance from her separately located home and work. I’ve just reached those ranks thanks to Mia’s new position at The Churchill inside The Orlando Hotel. Now, I’ve realized it can be a dangerous thing when, after a hard day at the office, she’s a mere 3 blocks away and on my way home. And this bar is also inside a hotel, so even when I get off early every Monday through Friday, it’s open!
As foodists, we all have a little Francophile in us. Why not celebrate France’s Le Fête Nationale some place around town? Whether it’s to enjoy a couple Kir Royales outdoors under the canopy of the Farmer’s Market, playing Pétanque after having slurped a dozen oysters downtown, a dinner in an intimate French Bistro or out on a gorgeous patio, Bastille Day is a perfect excuse to get out and live it up. (As if you really needed a reason to eat French food, right?)
Check these special celebrations in and around town. Most are on Saturday, but Church & State has delayed their celebration til Sunday just for belated revelers:
Saturday, July 14th, 2012
Monsieur Marcel – Mid-City West, Santa Monica (Open 9 AM – 9 PM)
The little restaurant stand inside The Original Farmer’s Market is now also on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade and ready to serve up cocktails for the holiday. Monsieur Marcel will be serving Kir Royales for $7.99 and Kir Normales for $6.99 each on the holiday. After all, you’ll have every reason to toast Felix Kira, a member of the French resistance, the French Parliament and eventual mayor of Dijon in Burgundy.
Prefer to celebrate with some eats? Start off with a French Onion Soup ($6.75) accompanied by a Frisée Salad with Feta Cheese and Hazelnuts ($13.75). Other options you’ll want to consider:
Niçoise Salad with Seared Ahi Tuna, Egg, and Lemon ($19.50)
Ham on Fleur de Sel Baguette with Cornichons and Radish ($15.95)
Moules Frites with Steamed Mussels and Fries ($19.25)
Steak Frites, a classic Hanger Steak with Fries ($19.50)
Duck Confit with Lentils and Kale ($27)
Crème Brûlée ($5)
Macarons, Fruit Tarts ($5-6)
Papilles – Hollywood
At Santos Uy and Tim Carey’s no-nonsense, curiously ambitious wine bistro, they’ll be celebrating Bastille Day with a three-course prix fixe menu for a bargain $30. Enjoy $12 carafes of natural French wines to further Two seatings (6-6:30 & 8-9 PM) are available, as is this menu:
French Onion Soup or Frisée Salad with French Radishes
Moules Frites or Steak Frites
Camembert or Chocolate Mousse
And that shall take care of the all essentials – and then some. Be sure to call to reserve your seating.
Cliff’s Edge - Silver Lake
Celebrate the storming of Bastille with a menu by Ben Bailly on Saturday night while enjoying the patio at Cliff’s Edge – hands-down one of the most beautiful settings in LA. Choose from the following options for a 3-course delight ($45 per person):
Frisee aux Lardons
poached egg, crispy bacon, bleu cheese, croutons
Escargot au Gratin
braised snails, garlic, parsley, mushrooms, tomatoes
Saumon a L’Orseille
Atlantic salmon, puy lentils salad, sorrel butter
Onglet a L’Echalote
Prime hangar steak, shallots sauce, roasted fingerling
Apricot Tart, Vanilla Creme Brulee or Glacee & Sorbet
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Church & State - Downtown LA
11 AM – 3 PM
If you feel like extending your celebrating to daytime Sunday, Downtown LA’s stalwart French bistro, Church & State has got something just your speed.
Chef Jeremy Berlin will be offering assorted French sandwiches. Maître Écailler Christophe Happillon, will be on hand with his famous raw bar serving up not only oysters (!!!), but clams, crab, shrimp and accompaniments for you to enjoy throughout the day.
Sarah Clarke, Church & State’s Sommelier and Beverage Director has a special menu with a selection of French wines, artisan beers and new summer cocktails for guests to enjoy all afternoon as well. And when in Downtown LA, do as the French do, and play a little Pétanque. It’ll be a perfect way to casually celebrate, as there are “no reservations – just fun.”
Happy Bastille Day, wherever you’ll be! See you around town.
The Original Farmer’s Market
6333 W 3rd St #150
Los Angeles, CA
1260 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA
Since Jason Neroni left Osteria La Buca, Hollywood’s been feeling a little blue since he was the center of some of the best Italian the neighborhood ever knew. It’s a great thing, then, that he’s scheduled to make a comeback with his and Paul Hibler’s own Superba Snack Bar (nay, not so great that it’s all the way in Venice). But we can take advantage of the pop-up going on this week, however, at the West Hollywood location of Pitfire Pizza.
The pop-up at Hibler’s Pitfire is essentially a preview of what’s to come in about a month at Superba Snack Bar, which will be located at 933 Rose in Venice. So check the menu below (subject to change) and hop on over to the Fairfax District in the next couple of days:
We’re all familiar with our favorite stands and spots at the Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax, a Los Angeles landmark that dates back to 1934. As we fast-forward and look at the space beginning the 21st century, much hasn’t changed in awhile before the Dupars remodel. Short Order and Short Cake just recently became the stalwart newcomers for the last couple months (and with good reason).
Now, there’s a new kid on the block, and her vibe is a luxe, open-air space accentuated by sleek and simple design lines and a centerpiece 360-degree bar. Staged across from Zara and Cafe Marmalade, the bar has potential to play host to a vibrant, pulsing energy. The only thing that would make the scenery prime is if the bar were maybe just one level up (didn’t you know – The Grove parking lot has some of the best sights of the city).
But all of this barely matters, because you still get the view of the original clock tower and more importantly, cocktails by Salvatore Calabrese and helmed by his conductor, local expert barsmith Joe Brooke.
In short, yes – go for the House Martini. It’s one of the best martinis you’ll ever have. It’s so cold while achieving the perfect dilution (see above video) and made perfect in no small part due to the frozen glass and spirits.
Another gin go-to would be the Breakfast Martini, made with Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and orange marmalade – a signature drink from 1997 that may immortalize Salvatore in the cocktail world. It’s just jammy enough thanks to the marmalade (an ingredient inspired by Salvatore’s wife) but not not too sweet. And of course, you’ll have to order your own to see if it actually tastes like breakfast.
Spice lovers won’t be disappointed by the still-elegant Spicy Fifty, made with Stolichnaya Vanilla vodka, elderflower cordial, fresh lime juice, honey syrup and chili pepper.
But the true signature cocktail of the menu would have to be The Farmer’s Martini, made with frozen Stoli Elit, blue curacao and Salvatore’s bitters & champagne. I can’t say I’ve ever had much of a blue cocktail since I’ve left undergrad – but while it’s not my favorite, this one is legit and, together with the Spicy Fifty, has me perhaps reconsidering my prejudices against vodka…maybe.
And for those who are secretly or not-so-secretly craving a girly drink will have to pony up (personally or not) for the $18 Hollywood Bubbles, a Champagne cocktail made with Benedictine, fresh raspberry puree and pomegranate juice. Though I might be quick to judge on looks alone, Bubbles actually packs quite the berry punch.
Mixology101 also serves bar food, though it decidedly carries less emphasis as it all fits onto the last page of the menu – after Salvatore’s bio. But really – if you were aiming to really eat, you’d go across the way to Planet Dailies.
It’s an exciting time to be at The Original Farmer’s Market. People don’t have to flock there purely on account of old favorites anymore and now have reason to make new ones.
Though their location is right by the Farmer’s Market, you won’t be finding a lot of housemade syrups, as that’s a variable to contend with from batch to batch. Mixology101 focuses on using modern (not to be confused with gastronomic) methods to make the classics. But it’s clear that Joe Brooke seems happy to be exactly where he’s at, under the tutelege of a world-renowned mixologist and continually learning.
With Short Order around the corner and offering quite a different style and selection of cocktails, it becomes clear: Cocktails of all kinds will be a new pull to the Original Farmer’s Market.
We’ll just have to deal with the early call times.
Mon – Thur
5 – 10 PM
Fri – Sat
5 – 11 PM
Mixology101 at Planet Dailies
6333 W. 3rd St., Ste. O20
Los Angeles, CA 90036