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.
Apologies for the lack of updates, but I can only blame an excellent month of March spent traveling and seeing more of North America. The first of the trips was a week-long culinary extravaganza, complete with a trip to Northern California followed by nights and days packed back-to-back with multi-course meals, wine education, a cooking class, and a grand tasting. It was the very first Lexus Culinary Classic, which they plan to hold yearly at Lexus partnership properties around the country.
The long-awaited restaurant from Neal Fraser, Amy Knoll Fraser and Bill Chait is finally here, and all of Los Angeles is the better for it. With a cocktail program focused on the classics by Julian Cox and a wine list curated by Diane Pandolfini, Redbird will stand to be one of the most exciting openings of 2015 – something everyone can confidently say even while it’s still January.
I think I am ruined. I have had sushi in Japan and it was phenomenal. It was the best sushi I have ever had; nay, it was the best meal I have had in my entire life. It surpassed my wildest dreams, if they knew at which point to even begin.
It’s that time, again, to present the essential food events going on the next few weeks around the city. It’s a wonder that I don’t do these more often, because I often want to highlight events that I don’t have time to write about before and after they occur.
So here’s a reminder, then, to check back on the blog whenever you can (on a full size browser, not mobile) for my Google Calendar-ready events list I’ve been maintaining in the right-hand column, underneath my avatar –>.
Without further ado…
Silver Lake is an anomaly of sorts. It’s known as one of the hippest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, though some easter-siders might argue that its time has past and has already gone by way of the tourist. Take, for example, that there are many movie settings that tout Silver Lake, but not Echo Park, Mt. Washington or Boyle Heights.
Sunset Junction, to be specific, is the site of the Los Angeles coffee resurgence, but the quality of Silver Lake’s new restaurants haven’t really kept the pace of the other burgeoning neighborhood’s eateries. Instead, it continues to be stocked with local favorites in lieu of destination restaurants with nearby residents regularly filling covers – and Silver Lake definitely prefers it that way.
This summer’s dineLA Restaurant Week commences today and lasts 10 days – over two weekday stretches and one weekend. And since we’ve had a few of these by now, it’s probably time we got smart on maneuvering through the multitude of menus. The trick with dineLA prix fixe is that it may get people through the door, but it may or may not be quite the deal you had in mind. The danger is that you might just be stuck with fewer, albeit recommended, choices for about the same price you’d normally pay.
May I propose lunch? They tend to be better deals than dinner – often true between both offerings of the same restaurant – because there’s more incentive to increase lunch traffic with dinner reservations filling up more readily. So whether you’ve got a 9-5 in the area or are in a certain neighborhood for an audition or client appointment, there’s probably a great dineLA power lunch strategy wherever you end up.
With The Foundry in the middle of an overhaul and Chef Eric Greenspan’s neighboring grilled cheese operative still under construction, the only place that Angelenos can get a piece of his comforting cooking is ironically in the middle of one of the best 360 degree views of the entire city. What better occasion than Independence Day to take advantage of not only the views but an affordable all-you-can-eat extravaganza?
When you visit an outpost of such a well-renowned hotel entity as the Ritz-Carlton, its flagship restaurant has plenty to live up to. And with a location and view right on the shore at Half Moon Bay, the food better be a match to its scenery and splendor. Navio lives up to the task thanks to Chef Sean Eastwood’s imaginative dishes with ingredients sourced from nearby markets, but this is the Ritz-Carlton, and they have come to expect a certain clientele that can afford the high-end ticket – the kind of clientele that also subscribe to the mantra of “location, location, location.” With that: Scenery.
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.