I don’t need much of a reason to drop in at Short Order at The Original Farmer’s Market. The cocktails are always tasty and boozy, Christian Page’s food is simply delicious whether you love burgers or not and Short Cake’s desserts and the Single Origin coffee are just icing on the cake. What’s more, the open air atmosphere is always a welcome vibe for a casual day or night out. The best part is that it doesn’t close between lunch and dinner, so if you’re game for a bite or drink during odd hours of the day, you can count on Short Order to be there.
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.
CBS (and vicinity) power lunchers, rejoice. If you’re tired of Chipotle and want a greener lunch alternative – at an also really competitive price point – Freshii brings tireless options with its 3rd Los Angeles outpost, at the 3rd and Fairfax Farmer’s Market.
Try soups, salads and wraps starting at $6.50. You can go with one of the chef’s recipes for simple ordering, or build your own. Some add-ons are free of charge, while others go for nominal fee. There are a ton of options, so while the plethora of choices may leave you either energized or overwhelmed – depending on your personality – you always have the option to go with a tried and true chef-designed item.
Freshii also prides itself on simple, easy, biodegradable and recyclable packaging. You won’t get any fancy plates or bowls with your meal, but you whether you grab and go or stay and dine, checking out your order is simple.
On my first visit, I also made my order simple by going with two of the “chef designed” items: The Spicy Lemongrass Soup ($7.59), which resembled a simplified yet delicious tom yum and the Antioxidant Chop Salad with added goat cheese. (To be clear, just one of these items was more than enough to fill me up, so I took both of them in their original containers to-go and finish, later.) The produce indeed was fresh and the salad tossed extremely well with just the right amount of dressing.
The most popular item at Freshii, which originally started as a salad-focused place, is the wrap – an item I still have to try on for size. But what I’m most excited about is their breakfast items. You can get a coffee or tea plus breakfast wrap for only $4.49. The only drawback is that they open at 9 AM so that means I have to venture back out after my 7:30 AM workday begins. But when you consider that the same price point is comparable to a McDonald’s breakfast, Freshii sounds like a fresh alternative.
In the near future, Freshii aims to have a delivery service. They’re also looking to become fully integrated with a breakthrough, tech-savvy system with iPads used for ordering, where you can personalize your own profiles with menu items that you frequent. So while you can probably visit Freshii every day for a full month without repeating yourself, they’re also aiming to make it personable – making it easy to remember your personal preferences so there’s always incentive to return to your favorites. For now, rest assured that you can call it in, grab and go.
I’ve a confession. At first migration to the Mid-Town neighborhood in which I still reside, I had frequented The Grove – weekly. It was the anti-mall mall before I realized that that could mean Disney. That was for shopping, however – all my dining excursions always took place in the nearby, historicÂ Farmer’s Market. So thanks to the PR company representing Morels, the French Bistro with the best people-watching in the entire mall (even with Christmas lights year-round to provide adequate lighting), I can now say I’ve dined at The Grove.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – but I can say there were pleasant surprises. The drinks were unfortunately not one of them, as they were mostly cocktails that were sweet enough to be what I might describe as “stereotypically girly” and not exactly complex. What I did enjoy was the cheese and charcuterie plate, which included Petite basque (sheep), Parrano (cow) & Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert (sheep), Prosciutto di Parma, garlic sausage, Rosette de Lyon salami and Dry mountain sausage. It was a nice combination of meats and cheeses, with the honey on the side being a nice touch as were the pickled radishes and French cornichon (get it – French bistro?).
Another highlight was the Caesar salad – which comes with a custom-made dressing. The server will season your dressing to taste right alongside your place setting. I thought my Caesar was delicious, however, even without modification. The fact that there was the option to add more sour cream, garlic or anchovy – for example – made for an interesting twist on what would normally be another mindless pre-entree salad.
Unfortunately, the main course of night – which was a beef tasting of sorts with Filet, New York and Rib Eye cuts – was rather unremarkable. The slices arrived with a steak sauce and were cooked with mostly salt; however, additional salt options were available on the table for the seasoning.Â Unfortunately, noÂ exotic salts can rectify ordinary steak.Â Brussel sprouts, bacon bits, carrots, potatoes and a soft root vegetable were sauteed and brought out on a hot pan to eat with the steak and were probably the most interesting feature of the entree. Short of my waving the foodie flag of buzz word “bacon” too many times in this post, it reminded me of my favorite dish at The Village Idiot – who serves up rather large brussel sprouts with generous bacon cubes and does the dish quite well, though meant to stand on its own instead of sprucing up plain, salted steak slices.