My Top dineLA Restaurant Week Lunch Picks for Summer, 2013: July 15 – 26

RivaBella’s Nidi di Rondine

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.

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Five Upcoming Food & Drink Events You Won’t Want to Miss

LudoBites 4.0 Greatest Hits: White Asparagus Veloute, Mozzarella Mousse, Candied Olives, Fennel, Salmon Roe

Now would be a great time to finally and formally introduce you to my “Upcoming Events” column over on the right (–>). It’s but a few months old, but a great way to short-handedly let you know about the best things that are coming up as far as goings on in Los Angeles. It also means less pre-event write-ups, since you can get the skinny right in that column. (You’re welcome.)

For now, though, I’ve anticipated a slew of food events in our beloved city – especially while everyone’s trying to get everything wrapped up before the holidays. I believe the following, however, warrant special attention. Be sure to make your reservations & buy your tickets. Here they are, in order of date:

1. Now: LudoBites 10.0 Reservation Window Now Open (until 10:59 AM Thursday, November 29, 2012)

Right now we’re in the middle of a 24-hour window that first opened at 11 AM PST. So until 10:59 AM tomorrow (Thursday, November 29), you’ll get to enter the lottery for a reservation on one of 14 days (weekdays, December 4-21) of LudoBites 10.0 at Gram & Papa’s in Downtown LA. No guarantees that any of you will actually GET a reservation, but all we can do is try, try, try, right? (No seriously – don’t submit that form twice. It will make Krissy very mad. Just once, guys.) Protip: To increase your chances of getting a reservation, be sure to be as available as possible, since you have to fill out your available days and time slots. Or maybe that was obvious.

And if you don’t know what LudoBites is, by now, I’m afraid I can’t help you…or can I?

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Favorite Dish: Rein Fall in with Mo-Chica’s Quinotto

Quinotto – Quinoa risotto, wild mushrooms, parmesan, parsley infused oil

I was loving the weather this past weekend in Los Angeles. At one time, I may have been one of those annoying Midwest ex-pats that complained about “missing the seasons,” but let’s be honest: Heat wave after heat wave into October does not a City of Angels make. We finally get to bring out the boots and maybe even sweaters. Late October is better than never, as they say.

Inspired by the grey clouds as well as the feeling that we Southern Californians will always have one foot in the sunshine, I recalled Mo-Chica’s Quinotto – a quinoa-mushroom dish that invokes the consistency and tastes of a mushroom risotto. Drizzled with parsley-infused oil, this savory dish is perfect for the grey clouds that have been finally adorning our skies.

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Los Angeles Magazine’s The Food Event at Saddlerock Ranch: Sunday, October 24, 2010

Arroz Con Marisco | Mo-Chica

It’s that time of year, again. Last year, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality showing of chefs at The Food Event. In this fifth installment, the line-up looks pretty solid. I also just checked the weather, and it looks like this rain will pass a couple days clear of Sunday (phew).

I can imagine that Malibu will be beautiful and green by the time The Food Event rolls around. It aims to be the perfect backdrop against which renowned restaurants, brands and their headlining chefs will glisten. I’m especially excited about Akasha, Barbrix, Bulgarini, Eva, The Foundry on Melrose, La Mill Coffee, The Lobster, Loteria!, Magnolia Bakery, Mo-Chica, Palate Food & Wine, The Penthouse at The Huntley Hotel, Sweet Rose Creamery and Westside Tavern. Chefs such as Helene An (The An Group), Mark Gold (Eva), Neal Fraser (Grace), Rory Hermann (Bouchon) and Laurent Quenioux (Bistro LQ) and mixologist Julian Cox (Rivera, Test Kitchen) will be presenting live demonstrations on the stage. Carrie Kommers (Dine LA) and Leslie Bargar Suter (Los Angeles Magazine) will be modering panels.

Of course, you’ll have mostly California wines closeby, along with Anheuser’s sponsored beer garden (serving Hoegaarden, Leffe and Stella), Karma Tequila and Veev to help you sip your way through the afternoon. And what’s even better, some research on my end yielded a discount code for $25 off the ticket price – so whether or not you decide to tether it to a $5 yearly subscription to Los Angeles Magazine – that’s a good quarter off the $95 advance ticket price. Take a look below for the code, get your tickets and I’ll see you there!

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

1 – 4 PM

Advance tickets: $95, or w/subscription: $100
At-the-door: $110

Parking included
Must be 21+
Use code “FRIENDS” for $25 off

The Food Event
Saddlerock Ranch
31727 Mulholland Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265

The 8th Plate By Plate Tasting Benefit: Saturday, August 14, 2010

Plate By Plate, 2009

Credit: Rich Mar Photography – used with permission

This year will be my first time attending Project by Project’s main, annual fundraising event called Plate by Plate – but there are plenty of hot names and a great cause on this ticket to warrant going. Your ticket will directly benefit our Asian American community at large as Project by Project partners with an underserved non-profit each year to help them reach their goals.

The names serving up this year’s delectables that have personally piqued my interest include: Chef Laurent Quenioux of Bistro LQ, Chef Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica, Chef Kevin Meehan of Cafe Pinot, Chef Amar Santana of Charlie Palmer at South Coast Plaza, Chef Anthony Zappola and Pastry Chef Shannon Swindle of Craft, Chef Eric Greenspan of The Foundry on Melrose, Thi & Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen, Chef Chris Behre of Gonpachi, Chef Suzanne Tracht of Jar, Susina Bakery and Valerie Confections.

Throughout the event, you’ll get to sip wine from 25 different wineries with your food, enjoy a taiko performance and see Aziz Ansari play sous chef. Bid in the silent auction on generous packages from restaurants and vendors all over the city.

Either way, I hope to see you there. I wouldn’t miss this one!

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tickets: Reg $125 ($150 door), VIP $200

6 – 7 PM VIP Reception
7 – 10 PM Main Event

Plate by Plate

California Science Center – Wallis Annenberg Building
700 State Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037

*Parking entrance is located on Figueroa St. between Exposition Blvd. and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Mo-Chica: A Peruvian Oasis in South L.A.

Ceviche (Market Fish, Seaweed, Peruvian Corn, Leche de Tigre) $5

About a little more than three weeks ago, you may have gotten the Blackboard Eats code for 30% off Mo-Chica. You may have gotten it because you’ve heard about Chef Ricardo Zarate. You may have gotten it because you were curious about Peruvian food. Well if there were a legit Blackboard Eats post that I ever wrote with urgency, let it be this one because your Mo-Chica code is about to expire this weekend.

Causa (Peruvian Potato Salad) $4

To start off, there are few things that will draw me into Trojan Land. No, I don’t harbor Trojan bittnerness as a Westwood-bred Bruin; it’s just like anything else. It better be for something specific. Like soul food. Or Chanos. Or the start of The Great Walk of LA. A Revlon Run-Walk or Nike event. Or yes, now: Mo-Chica. Ask Caroline – she was a little skeeved, though neither of us were familiar with the Mercado Paloma marketplace, a food court of sorts. Nancy, who wrote the Mo-Chica post on Caroline’s blog, was a pro, though, as a Trojan.

Each entree averages around $10 – which, considering the food, is quite a bargain for how much flavor Mo-Chica packs in each dish. I was especially impressed with the range of dishes with not even a consequence of nutrition value guilt. No dish was particularly heavy, and the thought that I was missing out never occurred to me. I was full, all right, while wanting to chase more tastebud titillations if only I had the capacity to digest them, too. The dishes, which centered around seafood, were perfectly executed in flavor and even portion…you wanted just another bite but knew that the next dish lay just around the corner. That’s how good Mo-Chica is. After all, it’s probably no accident that it’s a repeat mention for @thejgold, who also named it as the Best Peruvian Ceviche he’s had outside of Peru. First things first, I need to visit Peru.

Arroz Con Marisco (Peruvian Paella With Mixed Seafood) $13

I’ll take Mo-Chica – the contemporary equivalent – in the meantime.

Because I had read about the Ceviche and the Causa – both of which were indeed mind-blowing. But nothing was to prepare me for the Arroz Con Marisco, which was so packed with seafood in every bite (tiny clams especially), I couldn’t believe how deliciously hearty this rice dish was for the flavor and value. I might have to order this dish every time I return, just so I’m sure not to miss any seafood goodness (I am always a seafood pasta kind of girl when in Italy, too).

Special: Monk Fish and Fava Beans $13

The special that we ordered this night went beyond our expectations – and I never remember ever having liked Fava Beans as much as I did at Mo-Chica. The fish was perfectly cooked and tender and the sauce had a ton of flavor which bordered on a kind of curry. The texture of the dish had a nice gumminess thanks to the beans, and it became clear that this was a main dish, an entree.

Passion Fruit Creme Brulee

For dessert: Get the passion fruit creme brulee. The top layer was thankfully perfectly torched in our rendition, and the consistency of the custard was super creamy, dense and packed a whole lot of passion fruit flavor. Divine.

So don’t let this Blackboard Eats code go to waste. The entrees average about $10 with the appetizers starting at half that; apply the 30% off and you are in contemporary Peruvian heaven at a bargain.

Mo-Chica
3655 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA‎ 90007
213.747.2141‎

@mo_chica

Hatchi at Breadbar Goes Peruvian With Chef Ricardo Zarate

Causa at Mo-Chica

Photo credit to tinynancer on Flickr

Breadbar Century City’s monthly Hatchi series continues in January! The “foodie exhibition” of sorts rotates guest chefs for one-off nights so Angelenos can get a taste of everyone. Thursday, January 28, Hatchi will feature Chef Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica fame. Contemporary Peruvian tapas will be served, and if the glowing concensus about Mo-Chica is any indication, reservations will fill up fast.

True to its title, the night will feature eight dishes running $8 each. And if you’re smart about things, you’ll dine with at least a couple others so you can try everything on the menu. (Apologies ahead of time if I underestimate your capacity, perhaps, to single-handedly handle all eight by yourself.) Six of the eight will be savory, two will be desserts. Peep the “Peru Mucho Gusto” menu below (still under revision, subject to change):

SOPA DE COLIFLOR
Cauliflower soup, crispy pancetta, croutons, feta cheese dressing

CAUSA TRIO
Trio of Peruvian potato salad
Blue crab, mayo, huancaina sauce
Spicy blue fin tuna, rocoto aioli
Scallops menatiko sauce

CEVICHE MIXTO
Tairagai, uni, sea bass, aji amarillo leche de tigre sauce

TIRADITO DE PESCADO
Yellow tail tiradito, sundried tomato yuzu dressing

CARAPULCRA
Peruvian sun dried potatoes, pancetta, roasted black cod, chimichurri sauce

SECO DE CORDERO
Stew lamb shoulder in black beer and cilantro sauce, canario beans, red onion salsa

SELVA NEGRA
Flourless chocolate cake, lucuma ice cream, tamarillo sauce

KIWICHA CON LECHE Y ESENCIA DE MAZAMORRA
Kiwicha coconut pudding, purple corn essence, mixed nuts

Rarely find yourself in the USC area? Have an unfounded aversion to strip malls or do you simply love quality Peruvian food with a contemporary feel? Make your reservation at Breadbar for Chef Zarate’s turn at Hatchi.

Further reading:

Mo-Chica: The Best Peruvian Ceviche Might Be In a Warehouse South of Downtown – Jonathan Gold for LAWeekly

Perfectly Peruvian: Mo-Chica’s $35 Tasting MenuNancy Huang for CarolineOnCrack

I Ate the Eight: Hatchi With Michael Voltaggio – e*starLA

Thursday, January 28, 2009

6 – 10 PM

$8 per dish; 3 per guest minimum

Call for reservation or visit Breadbar or OpenTable

Breadbar Century City
10250 Santa Monica Blvd. R-2
Los Angeles, CA 90067
310.277.3770

@breadbar_la
@mo_chica