When you get approached to reminisce about a certain time and place, nay, a certain chef and his concept – on-camera – you know you’ve been hit with something very special. In the present age of reality TV, of course, you might have suspicions it could be exploitive, but then you know the show. And multi-Emmy-award-winning Mind of a Chef just so happens to be one of your favorite shows on cooking and the culture of food.
Furthermore, when you hear that the particular episode you’re asked to be a part is about LudoBites, and you’ll get to experience Ludo recreating a few dishes right in his own brand new kitchen. you know that it’s going to be good. There’s just so much to unpack, there.
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.
These days, it’s not exactly hard to find a pop-up around town. So when on the look out for one, unique themes and meal times will catch my eye more than others. Good thing Chef Connie Tran is launching her centrally located Sunday Vietnamese brunch pop-up on Melrose.
It’s a refreshing survey of her style of Vietnamese dishes. Because sometimes, you just want to go beyond a bowl of pho, and for multiple courses. And the option to BYOB is always a great way to go.
I say bespoke because the act of stumbling into Heirloom was shockingly not via their famously flavor-packed, personal sized lasagna cupcakes found at farmer’s markets around town, but instead by luck of an invitation to a private dinner showcasing Bridlewood Wines in that said tasting room. Fortunately, they’ll be opening it up to the public a few days during the week, and I imagine the Eagle Rock community will meet that unveiling with elation. So bring on 2013, then. Continue reading →
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?
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:
A couple days ago, there was an announcement of an alliance formed by Farid Zadi, David Haskell & Susan Park called FOH/BOHÂ³. Derived from Front of the House and Back of the House acronyms (“to the third power” is of no detail), the name is meant to capture the essence of their partnership – the pursuit of proper, hands-on restaurant training from the ground up.
The trioÂ wasted no time getting down to business as it has just been announced that they will be debuting at Jenee Park’s (also of Parkâ€™s BBQ and Don Dae Gam) LaOn (previous review) on Western this weekend. The location of their first projectÂ was secured at thisÂ newish restaurant just 3 hours after their interview with LA Weekly Squid Ink’s Amy Scattergood was finished. It’s a perfect setting for their launch, as Zadi has worked in Seoul for three years as a chef and managing partner at a restaurant. It also is expressive of David Haskell’sÂ intense passion for Korean food.
Park andÂ Zadi created a special menuÂ of 8 dishes, dubbed “Lucky Cat”, to complement LaOn’s traditional menu. One thing’s for sure: The menu of this “limited engagement” is not to be underestimated.Â Nothing on the menuÂ will be watered down, but instead will showcaseÂ the fabric of what Korean food is all about.Â
â€œI have a lot of respect for Korean cooking. My mother in law is from Jeon-Ju, the culinary capital of South Korea,” Farid says.Â â€œThis isnâ€™t fusion or even modern Korean. Weâ€™re taking Korean ingredients, flavors and techniques and recontextualizing them while retaining the soul of Korean cuisine: the bold, stick to your guts flavors that make it so satisfying.â€
Haskell will be pairing each menu item with a wine or beer, the pairingÂ pours of which will be available for $6 each – or glass pours for $12 each. Expect this pairing experience to evolve your perceptions ofÂ and experiences in Korean food, as I can’t recall a single time I’ve had traditional Korean foodÂ with proper wine pairing. FOH/BOHÂ³’s “front of the house” team will be on-hand to ensure top-notch service throughout both nights.
So be sure to secure your table now. This limited engagementÂ will sell out fast! Call 323.798.4648 or email David Haskell at [email protected] (Also note that reservations go til 1 AM – perfect for you nightowls.) Reservation lines are open now.
Breadbar, with its regular offerings being that of breakfast through lunch, is the site of many a nighttime pop-up. The latest one is curated by a regular of the space, Chef Noriyuki Sugie of Ironnori Concepts. It’s a casual stint to last through September,Â but as my recent dining experience has shown, Chef Sugie can sure serve up a solid bowl of ramen.
I accompanied Fiona; together, we were able to try the Oxtail and Spicy varieties. Though the gastronomic foam layer on top of the broth intially threw me off (how good can fancy-looking ramen taste?), when I took a slurp I was pleasantly surprised by both the flavor of my Spicy broth as well as the freshness and bite of the noodles.
Fiona’s Oxtail bowl of ramen differed more than just in toppings; her noodles were even a bit different (round and maybe a tiny bit coarser, whereas mineÂ had four sides and were more tender) and the brothÂ had a decidedly deeper, richer taste. My broth was a bitÂ more “mapo,” with tinges of bean curd in the broth. Both were delicious, but I loved mine for the familiarity.
You can also get the types and toppingsÂ of ramen as sides on a plate. The corned beef “is what it is,” so if you’re a bit more adventurous I’d recommend the tongue. The hibiscus and pineappleÂ sodas, a substantial add-on at $4,Â are housemade and delicious but also a refreshing off-set to the salty ramen.
So stop on by Breadbar on 3rd Street (not to be confused with the other locations) one of these summer nights. Personally, it’s a closer alternative than the trek to my trusty Santouka, and since it’s temporary, it also carries a bit of welcome novelty.
(Vegetarian? They’ve got you covered, too, with the appropriate modifications and omissions. And apologies for that tongue photo in this post.)
Since Bistro LQ had closed, I had been eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to experience Chef Laurent Quenioux’s food. Apparently, Nguyen and Thi of Starry Kitchen, Chef Quenioux and staff have been working a long time to make this guest appearance happen at their home digs.
In a couple weeks on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights and for most of the summer, you can experience 5 courses of LQ @ SK for $45. There will be a list of recommended wines that you can get from Domaine LA and enjoy them at your accord with zero corkage. If Laurent wasn’t reason enough to entice you downtown on an early-in-the-week night, the added reasonable price point and BYOB option should.
What I appreciated about all 5 courses was that though I knew Chef Quenioux to take chances, they reinforced that he is creative but not outlandish. No magic foams. Just well-integrated dishes that each express a simple statement.
To start things off, you’ll be treated to a surprise amuse. On the opening preview night, we were treated with Escamoles (ant eggs) smuggled straight from TJ that ran out during our run – complete with Sapporo chaser. Talk about taking “seasonal” to a whole new level – that is, to change by the day. It’s good indication you’re at an exciting place to eat.
I loved the Oxtail compote, which was accompanied by a pickled cucumber slice and carrot stick, topped off with a dallop of mustard tapioca. It’s no LQ uni tapioca, which is a dish all on its own, but I really liked this sweet and sour flourish to the oxtail. While I tend to think “sated” whenever I think of oxtail, all the stringy, crunchy and ballsy (couldn’t help it) textures were the interpretive bells and whistles on the down-to-earth flavors of this first course. Wonderful!
The Tai snapper was perfectly cooked – its juiciness, tenderness yet mildnessÂ further highlighted by the citrus fruits and vegetables. A really simple dishÂ yet pleasant andÂ even refreshing, which served as a good reprieve for the rabbit, foie gras and sweetbread richnessÂ to follow.
If Panda Express gave me ill associations with teriyaki sauce or even flavorings, Chef Quenioux may have just reversed those very misgivings. So subtle – and not so sweet – was the “teriyaki” savoryÂ albondigas (rabbit meatball), I could enjoy the miso that was poured into the dish at service. The green garlic tempura was delightfully fluffy and crunchy, which was a great contrast to the seared foie gras in taste and texture. The foie gras itself? I don’t really need to talk about it. It wasÂ heavenly.
But those gloriously breaded andÂ fried Veal sweetbreads.Â Morels andÂ chanterelles really brought forth an earthy tone to the dish whileÂ theÂ shishito peppers added aÂ subtle spice while the pastiness of the yuzu kosho were a great way to add a kick while keeping up with the breaded texture of the sweetbreads. Were the sweetbreads really sweet, you ask? Almost. But it doesn’t matter – sinceÂ the dish itself was fantastic.
And what topped the entire night off was no less than the most artful dish, doubling as a splendid dessert. Chocolate chipotle mousse and a churro sat withÂ lime serrano gel (with basil seeds)Â and cinnamon soil, orÂ crumbs from the churro. This was also the best wineÂ pairing of the night (disclosure: no wines included during the pop-up) with the subtle sweetness of theÂ NV Terres Dorees FRV100 cutting the spice in theÂ mousse yet rounding out the cinnamon quite well.
Anyway. LQ @ SK. You should “pop-in.” This is Chef Quenioux at his most accessible, an opportunity not to be wasted. His dishes are playful, but they also have vision and thanks to the efficient staff, underwent a successful execution even on the very first preview night. Not bad for aÂ test run. All I’m saying is, all systems go on this exciting and sure to be short-lived LQ run. Stay tuned for the official start date, which expects to be June 5th.
Now how about bringing back that cheese selection?
Update: Â So it’s been announced that start date IS Sunday, June 5th and there will be two seatings at 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM. Prix fixe stands at $45 per person. Menu is subject to change whenever Chef Quenioux feels like it. Sorry, no substitutions.Â Parking is validated. Also, reservations are available online only, here, for dates: June 5-7,13-14, 19, 20.Â More dates will be added later. You are confirmed only when you receive an email stating so.Â Go, go, go!!
The power duo is back – and they’re bringing back more options than ever to the Culver City cosplay cafe called Royal T. Chef Joseph Mahon and Sommelier David Haskell have expanded their thrice popped up pop-up to … you guessed it, three nights, starting onÂ Sunday, April 17Â and ending on Haskell’s 35th birthday,Â Tuesday, April 19th.
Mahonâ€™s French cuisine will be paired with Haskellâ€™s sake, Asian beer, and French and Italian wine selections. Choose from the five ($62), seven ($80), or ten-course menu ($118) with optional wine pairings ($45-92 additional) – orÂ go for theÂ special uni menu and separate wine pairings on Tuesday, April 19 in celebration of Haskellâ€™s 35th birthday (The Feast LA).
Magnum is working in collaboration with Tomo Kurokawa to donate a portion of the event and silent auction proceeds to benefit the Japanese SakeÂ AssociationÂ and subsequently sake breweries affected by the tsunami inÂ northern Japan.
Courses will include thoughtful selections such as:
Fennel Royale with Sea Urchin, Apple Cloud, and Nori Powder
Braised Baby Octopus with Leek Risotto, Pine Nuts, and Pancetta Vinaigrette
Miso-Cured Hangar Steak with Creamed Spinach, Shitake Mushroom Tempura, Sesame Seeds, and Ponzu Sauce
All wine, beer, and sake pairings will be announced the day of the event viaÂ Magnum and Royal/Tâ€™s Facebook and Twitter pages (@Magnum_dh and @RoyalTCafe).
At the bar, small plates and sake pairings will be available throughout the three-night series. Inspired by Royal/Tâ€™s newest street art exhibit â€œFACEMAKER, the bar bites will reflect graffitiâ€™s free-form streaks, which include:
Sliders with Grass-Fed Beef, Potato Chips, Bibb Lettuce, and Chipotle AÃ¯oli ($15)
Tuna Rolls with Crab, Jicama, Mango, and Spicy Mayonnaise ($19)
Oysters with Brown Butter and Lemon ($14)
Everything sounds absolutely delicious. Pop-up restaurants may come and go…and come and go…but this bigger and badder rendition of MagnumÂ looks like one not to be missed. Be sure to call or email to reserve. Zeus The Cat will be standing by.
Also, be sure to check out the items up for silent auction, which are constantly being updated on Twitter and on the official Magnum website.