If the former Playa Rivera, as it stood on Beverly Boulevard, offered a somewhat intimidating Mexi-China concept for the price point at which it met its clientele, then perhaps Petty Cash Taqueria will benefit from all the lessons learnt. The menu is streamlined straight toward Baja, peppered with a beverage selection fit to satisfy the fussiest drinkers in LA. While quality ingredients are in the picture, that doesn’t begin to describe how well the tacos and flavor combinations are executed.
After all, who else would show the people of Hancock Park that a charred octopus taco is always what they’ve wanted?
$39 per person. Bottomless wine. 5-course prix fixe.
I know I said “brunch,” and I know Mark Gold calls this the “Eva Dinner Party,” but the noon start time has to count for something, doesn’t it? You get all of the following: Deviled Eggs, Nicoise Salad with Olive Relish and Roast Peppers, Chicken “Pallard” withÂ Arugula and Mustard, Warm Potato Salad, Prime Skirt Steak, Grilled Asparagus and Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Creme Fraiche. I know. Amazing. This is where I’ll be…sometime during Easter Day.
7458 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036, 323.634.0700
Chaya Brasserie (Downtown, Beverly Hills, Venice): 11 AM – 3 PM
$37 per person, $15 per young adult. Bottomless champagne. 3-course prix fixe.
You get a couple choices for your 3-course prix fixe, all menus of which vary according to location! Be sure to peep the right Chaya outpost for your menu.
A few highlights from what I can see on all three menus include French Toast with Granola Crust, Kabocha Squash Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi, Grilled New York Steak and Fries with Poached Egg, Pancetta-wrapped Gulf Shrimp with Provencal Grits, Meyer Lemon Mascarpone Cheese Tart. I think the Downtown location is where to be!
525 South Flower, Los Angeles, CA 90017, 213.236.9577
8741 Alden Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90048, 213.859.8833
$25 per adult, $15 per child under 12. Comes with one mimosa or glass of Prosecco. Buffet-style plus one family-style pasta.
Not feeling the prix fixe but don’t want any hassle? Obika’s doing it up buffet style – at the mall. Mozzarella di Bufala along with a selection of Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon, Assorted, Salumi, Caponata with Pan Carsau, Artichoke Ricotta Quiche with Thyme and Mint, Ricotta Mousse and four (yes, four) flavors of Tirimisu will all be available. In addition, your table will get to pick one choice of pasta served family style, including Handmade Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage, Lasagnetta with Peas and Tagliolini with Artichoke and Mint.
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067, 310.556.2452
I had a wonderful dining experience at Fraiche the other night, and the standout dish was an amazing bowl of basil sauced and perfectly cooked risotto. The rice grains altogether made up a creamy consistency but had a firm bite underneath it all.
Of course, the real treat was the four snails that rested atop the green bed. Buttery and flavorful as ever, their richness was a pleasure to apportion to every other bite of risotto, which stood by itself thanks to the vibrant basil. The tomatoes were a perfect addition, providing a subtle sweetness that complimented the other rich flavors in the dish.
Paul, Fraiche’s sommelier, poured us a delicious 2008 Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc – the crispness of which made a perfect pairing to the richness and creaminess of the risotto dish. Every bite I took was beautifully finished off and washed down with a sip of Sancerre.
There are other spectacular dishes you should try at Fraiche, like their Endive Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette and Copa de Parma – a savory and indulgent yet balanced salad (thanks to the dates) like you never had, before. Their House-Made Agnolotti, filled with mascarpone and topped with wild mushrooms and truffle butter were another favorite of mine. The mild mascarpone was a good match for the heavy truffle butter, with the delicious wild mushrooms that lined the plateÂ making meÂ close my eyes for a moment. Of course, if I failed to mention Chef Ben Bailly’s awesome truffle burger, I’d be omitting a huge reason why foodies across town dine in Culver City. Try it for yourself, and unless you also had the tasting menu, plan on eating the whole thing yourself. No room for sharing.
These are the kind of dishes that cause food-gasms, and it looks like Chef Bailly has settled in to his new home (since Petrossian) pretty well. Drop in to see what he’s up to – that is,Â a rustic menu with some solid dishes.
Mon – Fri
11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Mon – Sun
5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
5:30 – 6:30 PM ($3 draft, $4 house wine, $5 well drinks)
Fraiche CC 9411 Culver Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 310.839.6800
It was one of my last nights in Taiwan when my mom and I met one of her old childhood friends at Su Hung, a restaurant surprisingly located in a shopping structure adjacent to a subway station. As we ascended the stairs, a hot pot restaurant caught my eye – but I was ever lucky that Su Hung was the one that came recommended.
I had decided to resist the hype of Din Tai Fung, further dissuaded by word of endless waits and an eagerness to avoid being lumped into the “eating tourist” demographic. After all, why settle for the merely better-than-Arcadian version of the restaurant chain, with possibly an even worse wait? I had a bloodline to honor.
Su Hung offers not pork soup dumplings, but rather loofah-greens-and-shrimp soup dumplings. You can eat more of these than the very popular pork version and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more specialized soup dumpling anywhere else in Taipei – much less in America. There is less soup in these, but they’re a nice departure for diners looking for something lighter, a little different and less obvious.
There are plenty of other dishes at Su Hung that will quench your appetite for the savory, including the very delicious tofu dish which comes in a stone pot immersed in a broth made with braised crab eggs. Though I enjoyed pretty much everything that came out from the kitchen, this was my favorite preparation of tofu during my entire Taiwan trip (and you can guess that with all the meals shared with relatives, vegetarian and non-, there were a lot). Never the brave one to crack the middle innards of a crab shell open (I’m a leg woman), I really appreciated this delicious sauce and barely fried tofu with a texture that was silken yet could hold its own to the temperature. Boiling stone pots never fail to excite me as they approach the table – and this one far exceeded even my expectations.
If you’re looking for a unique yet delicious noodle dish, order the Simmered Noodles – a simple bowl of wheat noodles-in-chicken-broth that attains its complex taste and texture by, you guessed it, simmering for a long time. It’s dressed with tiny dried shrimp and green onion, and was perfectly comforting for that rainy day we happened to eat at Su Hung. Divy up that medium-sized bowl with your dining partners, and your seconds and thirds will show you that you wished the portion was even bigger. Guess you’ll have to order another, or another of their specialties.
And of course, the title picture may evoke memories…of the East Village. Rather than being portioned out individually at Momofuku for $9 a pop, you’ll get enough green onion, wilted cilantro (just like New York) and braised pork belly to fill 6 “bao” tacos for NT $360 (USD $12). You actually are given only 4 shells to begin with, but the waitstaff will graciously bring you more should you have more honey-braised pork belly to stuff them with. Of course, this is an unfair price point and cost-of-living comparison, but it’s just one more reason this dish is a definite must-order when you dine at Su Hung. It’s your favorite Hunan-style hamburger, ever that much closer to the source.
No meal is complete without dessert, and Su Hung has the perfect version of your typical red bean-filled sesame rice balls you would otherwise see being wheeled around, cold, on carts at San Gabriel Valley dim sum. This version comes hot and flat, like a freshly-made, sweet rice crepe, with the red bean oozing out from all sides at which it is cut.
Su Hung offers unique and well-executed dishes that will surely enrich your Taipei dining experience. It was ironic that the Taipei Times’ review of the place published online on the very day I dined there. It had mostly favorable views, consistent with my pleasant experience.Â It seems as though the businessmen that line their tables are really on to something – and those looking for a solid meal, period, would serve themselves well to take their cue.
11:30 AM – 2 PM 5:30 PM – 9 PM
Su Hung Restaurant 2-1, Jinan Rd Sec 1 Taipei City, Taiwan 02.2396.3186
Hello from Taiwan! These past few days while on vacation, I’ve been discovering a little (or a lot) about my roots. A large part of my cultural lesson during the beginning of this trip has been through the consumption of each meal in the major city near where my mother grew up – Kaohsiung, in the south part of the island. There is no better way to learn about a people than walking in their shoes – by eating what they do.
Fortunately, I’ve been exposed to a little bit of traditional Taiwanese cuisine since a lone Taiwanese American kid growing up in Wisconsin thanks to my mom’s cooking. Yes, she once made Bah-Tzang, the pyramid-shaped “Taiwanese tamale,” on a regular basis. I remember watching her fill the bamboo leaf-wrapped cones first with sticky rice and soft, boiled peanuts, then a mixture of slow-cooked beef cubes, black mushrooms and dried shrimp before folding over the leaves, tying the pyramid up with a string and boiling these neat-wrapped packages in the rice cooker. All this, while the only other things I wanted to eat were McDonald’s, bratwurst, ambrosia salads and macaroni casseroles like the rest of my friends.
But Bah-Tzang always was a near and dear dish to my heart and heritage while all other Taiwanese dishes were merely oddities with strange flavors and textures. That is, until my palate graduated to a level that could appreciate them. Sweet chili sauce and soy are the best condiments with which to appreciate bah-tzang – and as you collapse the steaming tamale with your chopsticks, notice the texture of the sticky rice and the delicious smell. This is folk food at its finest and most portable, enabling us modern eaters to freeze and nuke at will. Check out this post on Tiny Urban Kitchen: Taiwanese Rice Dumplings (includes history, recipe) for a break-down.
Milkfish paste gravy soup is a delicious soup with the consistency of a liquified gravy and taste of a light broth – with the clear color to match.Â Do not mistaken the milkfish for fish balls; the paste gives a more tender bite. If you see milkfish/swordfish ball soup, expect the soup to be a clear liquid. By tradition, milkfish paste soups are thicker in consistency with the help of cornstarch. Season it with white pepper and together with its minced green onions and cilantro, the simple soup will have you slurping til the last spoonful.
Wahgui, or translated directly, rice bowled cake with sauce, may be mostly glutinous rice cake, but make no mistake – the bowl gives it its name and shape. Mixed into the sticky, soft texture are radishes and dried shrimp, and a sweet, rich sauce (in translated name only, but I prefer “gravy”) – is heaped on top of it to give it that umami. Add a chili sauce to it to make it hot, if you wish, but this bowl of goodness is as decadent as Taiwanese food gets.
All three of the above dishes, which I had on the day I landed on Formosa, cost between 30 and 35 NT (New Taiwan Dollars) each – the equivalent of $1 USD. You may only know Taiwanese food as Xiao Long Bao, or juicy pork dumplings – especially in Los Angeles (see: Din Tai Fung) – but let’s set the record straight. This is traditional Taiwanese food; XLBs came to the U.S. by way of Shanghai through Taipei (in Din Tai Fung’s case – only after the Chinese Civil War) since Communists hardly let their people emigrate.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the headquarters of CHAM Korean Bistro (Pasadena) and iT! Jeans for a kimchi pickling workshop. We were treated to CHAM cocktails made with sparkling wine, yuzu, Korean Makgeolli as well as tofu rice pockets filled with everything from kimchi (and candied anchovies) to seaweed salad, pepper-encrusted ahi tuna and salted and roasted kale chips. It was a dinner filled with Korean fusion delight.
For the learning portion, we got a demonstration on how CHAM makes their kimchi, with recipes and instructionÂ straight from Chef EJ Jeong (formerly of A.O.C. and BOA). Check Cathy of Gastronomyblog‘sÂ great write-up of the Napa Cabbage kimchi we were all taught to make.
After our appetizers, kimchi lesson and deliciousÂ main course (pork shoulder, cabbage kimchi, salted shrimp and sesame leaves) – we got a taste of a different kind of kimchi, which ended up being my favorite of the night: Persimmon kimchi! The recipe for this is actually the same as the traditional cabbage kimchi, save for the elimination of salted shrimp. It became intuitive that fishy, saltyÂ persimmons are not appetizing. But the subtle and firm sweetness of the persimmon is paired so perfectly with the chili flavoring I’ve learned to love in Korean kimchi. It was like a live, Korean version of the Trader Joe’s dried chili red mangos that are so popular. An interesting tip with this recipe is to use unripe persimmons, because they will actually ripen as they are fermenting in their container and in your refrigerator!
Chef EJ Jeong’s Persimmon Kimchi Recipe
Ingredients: 2 lb peeled persimmons 12 oz kimchi marinade
Kimchi marinade ingredients:1 cup sweet rice powder 5 cups purified water 2 lb radish 4 oz minari 4 oz kat (red mustard) 4 oz Korean chives (thinner than Chinese chives) 5 oz garlic 10 oz Asian pear (peeled) 9 oz onion (peeled) 1 oz ginger (peeled) 1 cup Taeyangcho rd chili pepper powder (coarse) 1/4 cup anchovy fish sauce (Korean) 3/4 cup salted shrimp sauce (Korean) 4 oz fresno 4 oz green onion
Preparation & Procedure: How to make porridge Mix puried water with sweet rice powder, dissolving the power until there are no lumps. Heat the water and rice powder mixture over the stovetop, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When it starts to form bubbles, reduce heat and stir continuously. Once the mixture becomes thicker and is translucent, turn the heat off. The process from once the mixture is heated to when it becomes the correct consistency and color takes approximately ten minutes. Cool down completely.
Preparation & Procedure Mix together. Enjoy!
Â I’m no hotshot in the kitchen, but I plan on giving persimmon kimchi a try. And if you feel so inclined to get your own kimchi education, CHAM is luckily going to be hosting another workshop on Saturday. You’ll get to take home your own jar of cabbage kimchi so you can leave it in your refrigerator to ferment for at least 20 days before eating. It’s the workshop that keeps on giving!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
11:30 AM to 2:30 PM
$40 per person – includes Korean tapas, a cocktail, and kimchi to take home.
Making Kimchi with Chef EJ Jeong Cham Bistro R&D Kitchen 5251 S. Santa Fe Avenue Vernon, CA 90058
It really all started with a heavenly dish of Duck Foie Gras Ravioli in Meatpacking District. So when I heard Scott Conant’s Scarpetta was coming to the left coast back in OctoberÂ – and no further than across the Canon Drive Beverly Hills parkway from Bouchon – I became elated that I would finally get to try the famous spaghetti. What’s more, I wouldn’t have to reserve one of my meals to do soÂ (and commit a “repeat”) on my next trip to New York.
It’s a $26 entree in an upscale, self-described “Old Hollywood-style” interior. Personally, it reminded me more of New York – but I have prior associations and attachments. The pasta in Beverly Hills, though? Perfectly al dente. It’s made with semolina flour and zero-zero pasta. The fresh basil brought the other dimension to the vibrant tomato, and I found myself scarfing down the European-sized portion of noodles and sauce.
If I visit Scarpetta often and never order another dish, I would be just as happy.
Sunday – Thursday
5:30 – 11:00 PM
Friday – Saturday
5:30 PM – Midnight
Free parking for 2 hrs in public underground, adjacent lot
Scarpetta at Montage 225 North Canon Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90210 310.860.7970
Dogfish Head, the Delawarean brewery that commands great enthusiasm amongst anyone who loves beer, is trekking to the West Coast this October for what promises to be an epic dinner. This beer dinner, the first with Dogfish Head in Los Angeles,Â will be held at none other than Chef Eric Greenspan’s The Foundry on Melrose. I can only guess that the personalities alone at the helm of this event will provide ample entertainment to pair with your…well, pairings.
On that Sunday afternoon, expect 5 award-winning Dogfish Head ales paired expertly with 5 of The Foundry’s dishes. Guiding you will be Bryant Goulding, Dogfish Head West Coast Sales Manager and Brewery Rep; Gev Kazanchyan, hospitality professor; Randy Clemens, certified beer judge and celebrity chef Eric Greenspan, himself. The $79 price point is all-inclusive and quite a steal for 5 courses with pairings.Â
Space is very limited, so be sure to get your tickets now! I’ll see you there.
I’ve found a couple more reasons to eat in Pasadena. With those reasons being a few favorite dishes at CHAM, I thought I’d share the news of the now one-year old Korean bistro that is actually an off-shoot of the spectacular, all-meals-prepared employee perks program of iT! jeans. The creators of the jeans line and the bistro are one and the same, and casual Pasadena diners are reaping the benefits of their kitchen.
This is definitely approachable Korean food – so all you hardcore types can save your money while those who have been previously scared away by these flavors can appreciate the foray into Korean cuisine. A great starter with a spin on the traditional was their pickle sampler, which showcases white asparagus, sweet onions, carrots and thinly sliced beets. I appreciated that the brines in which each of the vegetables were specialized with the beets and onions being sweet yet the carrots and white asparagus having a perfect amount of sour. The white asparagus was my favorite, if only because I’ve rarely seen it prepared pickled, before.
My favorite sugared chili dish was the Spicy Cold Bibim Noodles. Bibimbab, it’s not; cold noodles with just the right, spicy flavoring to go with its cool temperature and texture – it sure is. While the dish wasn’t traditional, the flavors seemed like it.
My other favorite dish was the Tofu Crouton Salad. The tofu were perfectly fried with an almost-tempura like texture on the outside. The butter lettuce was the perfect choice of greenery with barley to add a perfect weight. The black sesame vinaigrette was thankfully not too sweet and ultimately delicious.
The other favorite at this Korean Bistro is decidedly not Korean food – but let’s not fault Executive chef E.J. Jeong (former A.O.C.) for having an imagination, shall we? This other favorite featured very sweet, cubed watermelon at its center with refreshing mint notes in the salad and in the vinaigrette and generous helpings of earthy feta and figs sprinkled on top. This is the quintessential summer treat.
The kicker of this eatery is that their beer list is rather intriguing and offers great pairings with the vibrant flavors of your Korean-style food. Sure, there is Hite, but also the Maredsous 8, Oskar Blues (Mama’s Little Yella Pils), Houblon (Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel) and Lost Abbey’s Devotion. The wine list is also modest but really, all you need. I especially enjoyed the Saddlerock Chardonnay straight from Malibu with my food.
The next time I’m in Pasadena (I am locatedÂ further east, after all) and need a bite – or three – to eat, I would certainly stop by Cham. While this isn’t the place to order your soon tofu on the scale of spiciness like an O.G. Korean eatery, Cham is a place that does justice to and serves its influences well.
P.S. – At the end of your meal, don’t forget the raspberry lambic beer float made with Framboise. Unlike other beer floats, this one is decidedly a dessert for your sweet tooth!
Pop-ups are all the rage, lately, especially in Los Angeles. Test Kitchen, however, brings that concept to another, oxymoronic level in that it is a “permanent” pop-up, of sorts. Yes, Test Kitchen serves exactly the purpose of how it sounds in the first place, and is indicative of a food culture and city in which it is normal for talented and even famous chefs to be homeless. Test Kitchen is the couch they squat, and Jordan Kahn’s, Noah Ellis’ and Adam Fleischman’s (Umami Burger) new Vietnamese outfit to open in the fall on Wilshire, Red Medicine, was the first to do so in a fully booked 5-day run ending last Sunday.
Luckily, Mattatouille let me crash his 2-top reservation that day, and as to be expected there were tons of industry and bloggy types to brush shoulders against. In my lone experience during Jordan’s run, I could see hardly any drawbacks to the system. The pacing in all 12 courses was expedient (yes, there were 12) and the prix fixe pricing was dirt cheap at $40. The dishes that were hits really went out of the park; the dishes that were misses for me were arguable and interesting conversation pieces with others in attendance. One thing’s for sure, though: Jordan’s imagination was ever apparent in every course and kept all diners sitting at the edge of their chairs.
Favorites included the pork belly tartine – it was paired perfectly with pickled carrots and coriander, given weight by the pate and finished with the perfect kick at the end thanks to the back-burning green chili. I enjoyed it in a single bite yet savored it for minutes thereafter. Another grand slam was the Cured Amberjack, balanced atop sous vide french melon and topped with lime leaf, nuoc cham, bird chili and mint. It was an amazingly refreshing yet complex dish that really complemented the fish.
One of my other favorites was the tomatoes, which were a delicious example in sustainable cooking and farming, having been marinated in an infusion of their vines. The unmistakeable tomato flavor was paired up with silky and crunchy tofu – a refreshing departure from mozzarella and creme fraiche. The silken tofu had nuances of a creamier food thanks to the vine infusion oil but when I realized I wished there were more on the plate it was clear how light the dish was. Leafy greens and purple basil gave it good aroma, green color and foliage.
One of the dishes that I enjoyed but Mattatouille happened to disagree with was the bay scallops, dressed with young ginger, tamarind syrup, puffed tapioca and charred frisee. It was my first time experiencing frisee served that way and this provided much of the flavor – a nice twist on a green that has normally been regarded as a garnish. The puffed tapioca was a nice spin on hominy, making the intermixed bay scallops (read: small) somewhat an ingredient in a seafood salad. It challenged how I indiscriminately favored big juicy scallop steaks up until this point. Touche.
The baby carrots were a nice, firm yet sweet texture underneath the also sweet fermented black bean – my favorite sweet-savory dish on the menu in contrast to the brussels sprouts (carmelized shallots, fish sauce, prawn crackers), which I didn’t think quite worked but others had actually liked. The anise on the baby carrots as well as the coconut and tarragon really kept things aromatic and interesting.