Off Menu: Lucas explores Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley, this hemisphere’s biggest and best Chinatown

Off Menu: Lucas explores Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley, this hemisphere’s biggest and best Chinatown

Off Menu: Lucas explores Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley, this hemisphere’s biggest and best Chinatown

In this week’s episode of “Off Menu,” host Lucas Kwan Peterson heads east of Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley, a 20-mile-wide swath that is the biggest and best Chinatown on the continent. Whether it’s hot pot or Taiwanese breakfast or northern Chinese dumplings, it’s possible to find almost every kind of regional Chinese cooking in the SGV. Lucas heads to the restaurant Hui Tou Xiang to chat with David Chan, an amateur […]

The Best of Downtown: Food and Drinks

The Best of Downtown: Food and Drinks

The Palm Downtown is full of delicious food and beverage options. Below are some of the best according to Los Angeles Downtown News’ readers as well as a few picks from our staff members. BEST AMERICAN CUISINE Nixo at the Luxe City Center : The patio view is nice, but executive chef Ben Diaz’s menu is even nicer at this South Park hotel eatery. Among the starters are fried calamari and glazed wings, while […]

To read more of this article click here: www.ladowntownnews.com

To read more of this article click here: www.ladowntownnews.com

DINNER THEATER AT FIFTY SEVEN

Google “chefs are the new rock stars,” and you’ll find there’s a whole movement of people who think this could be true. Okay, sure. MTV died with Kurt Cobain, and now most of America’s young adults are more likely to be watching Gordon Ramsay than they are to be reading this sentence. As the airtime, headlines, and dollar-signs have it, people who make dinner are more popular than people who play guitar.

If I were a computer twerking the data, I’d arrive at the same conclusion. But I feel like today’s “rock star chefs” couldn’t possibly trigger the kind of emotional response that say, Jim Morrison once did. Like, nobody’s going to cry and scream watching David Chang turn on a blender. On the other hand, there’s got to be somebody out there with a David Chang recipe tattooed on their leg. Or even better, a David Chang face.

Anyway that’s all speculation. What really validates this rock-star-chef phenomenon is that it’s no longer just the TV personalities who matter. In the restaurant world, chefs have recaptured the spotlight and built an eager live audience that’s ready to follow them from popup to food truck and back.

 

Go to a hip new eatery, and you can see into the kitchen. It’s a stage! Take a look at the menu, and you’ll immediately find the name of the chef. It’s a program! Dining out is no longer what you do before the show. It is the show. And nowhere is this more true than at the new Arts District eatery Fifty Seven.

“This used the be the old Heinz Loading Dock,” your server will say in his opening shpiel. “That’s why it’s called Fifty Seven.” And look at her now! All done-up in layers of wood and brick, accessorized with sleek iron rails and mod ceramic vessels. If only the old Heinz managers could see how beautifully their warehouse bay seats twenty on a long leather banquette.

This stunning makeover comes courtesy of Cardiff Giant, the same crew of geniuses behind the rotating nightclub DBA. These guys have figured out a nightlife hack: go curatorial, and you’ll never get old. Accordingly, Fifty Seven is more dining venue than dining concept. It’s a space built to showcase the most compelling chefs from around the country, with a new one arriving every season with a new menu. And while some say LA is the “dark horse” of the culinary scene, we expect Fifty Seven will always have first draft pick. Because really, who could say no to local produce?

 

 

Not Chef David Nayfeld! California’s bounty is what lured him back to his home state after ten years abroad, including racking up three Michelin Stars and six James Beard Awards at Eleven Madison Park in NYC. For his inaugural stint at Fifty Seven, Nayfeld crafted a progressive American menu, featuring deviled eggs with mushrooms tucked inside, sumptuous veal liver with an onion jam spread, and a rustic, stuffed chicken on a bed of romesco sauce.

Whatever kind of stars they are, today’s chefs have undoubtedly risen on a tidal shift in attitudes toward food. Every single day in America, somebody else watches a documentary and becomes aghast to learn the dirty details of our megafarm-to-supermarket system. They join a movement to dethrone the Wonderbread dynasty, with the chefs at the culinary vanguard leading the charge.

In LA’s downtown Arts District, this local/artisanal movement takes on an ironic significance as it burrows in the ruins of yesterday’s national distribution network. It’s really only fitting that the nexus of the dining zeitgeist would appear here, at Fifty Seven, where millions of bottles of ketchup once stopped on their way to every fridge in town.

photo JOSH TELLES

 READ MORE IN OUR E-ISSUE. 

GATHER, GLUTTONS: DINE LA DELIVERS 12 DAYS OF GUILT FREE DINING

It’s that time of year again! When the most gluttonous of the gluttons exercise their right to wine and dine all over the city during LA’s Winter Restaurant Week. From January 20-31st, LA’s best restaurants are offering specially priced prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus. For some, it’s an excuse to be thrifty while indulging in their favorite haunts, and for others it is a perfect reason to be adventurous with those tastebuds. Either way, you should give your stove, microwave, and local pizza joint a break and treat yo self to culinary magic at a great price – it only happens a few times a year.


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Lukshon | Photo by: Jakob N. Layman

Asian/Asian-Fusion

Lukshon | 3239 Helms Avenue, Culver City, CA 90232
Price: Lunch: $20, Dinner: $35
Father’s Office chef/owner Sang Yoon’s take on South Eastern Asian cuisine is executed at Lukshon with fine dining techniques and a beautiful outdoor atmosphere to match. What to expect: bold flavors, but small portions.
*menu not available yet

Badmaash | 108 West 2nd Street #104, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Price: Lunch: $15, Dinner:  $25
As if we could ask for a better combination of cuisines from the food gods, Badmaash has answered our prayers. Savory, bold Indian dishes with a gastropub slant–burgers, poutine fries and chili cheese will never be looked at the same ever again.
*menu not available yet

Night + Market | 9041 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Price: Dinner: $35
Famed for their Thai street food-influenced menu, Night + Market has gained a rep for using Dine LA as a time to experimenting with off-menu offerings and Chef Kris Yenbamroong is one of the rising stars in LA’s culinary scene.
*menu not available yet

sottoCourtesy: Sotto Restaurant

Italian

Sotto | 9575 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Price: Dinner: $35
Noted for their pastas and pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven, Sotto offers delicious South Italian-regional cuisine.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/sotto

Piccolo Venice | 150 S Beverly Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Price: Dinner: $45
A quaint slice of Italy that can be enjoyed on the beaches of Venice — it may not be overlooking the waters of the Venetian Lagoon, but hey, close enough. Piccolo offers classic dishes with an authentic dining experience, and they may be one of the few restaurants offering truffles on their Dine LA menu.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/piccolo-venice

 

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Picca Peruvian Cantina | P
hoto by http://hautekhuuture.blogspot.com/

Latin

Rivera | 1050 South Flower Street #102, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Price: Lunch: $25, Dinner: $45
A modern Latin restaurant, their dishes may read as ordinary on paper, but are artfully presented with sauces and spices painted and stenciled on that make for gorgeous presentation that looks as impressive as it tastes.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/rivera

Picca Peruvian Cantina | 9575 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Price: Dinner: $45
Chef Ricardo Zarate plays by the traditional rules when it comes to how he serves his menu of over 50 Peruvian dishes, designed to be shared family-style, but where he breaks the mold is in his knack for Japanese flair in his execution and innovation.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/picca

Chef de Cuisine Ken Takayama of Melisse - Los Angeles, CA
Courtesy: Melisse Restaurant 

French

Patina | 141 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Price: Dinner: $85
Nestled in Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chef Joachim Splichal’s flagship restaurant is modern and classy, with Patina’s location preceding its penchant for elegance and exquisite French-Californian dining.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/patina-restaurant

Melisse | 1104 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Price: Dinner: $85
Like to take your time dining? A visit to Melisse is in order. Serving up seasonal French cuisine, Melisse will have you feeling totes refined – but be prepared for a long stay, 2.5 hours long to be exact.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/melisse

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Fogo de Chao Churrascaria | Photo: James Camp

Best Bang For Your Buck

Fogo de Chao Churrascaria | 133 North La Cienega Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Price: Lunch: $25, Dinner: $45
Meat, meat, meat. Head to Fogo de Chao for Brazilian style all-you-can-eat steak and other choice cuts of meat alongside a pretty legit salad bar (hint: grab some parmesan wedges). The cat’s out of the bag when it comes to Fogo being a good deal though, so make sure you’re prepared to potentially be seated an hour after the time you’ve reserved.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/fogo-de-chao-churrascaria

Lucques | 8474 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood, CA 90069
Price: Lunch: $25, Dinner: $50
The appearance and vibe of Lucques is that of a weekend getaway in your rich in-laws’ guest house. Chef Suzanne Goin is notorious for her take on Mediterranean cuisine by adding a bit of our regional California style: bold flavors, seasonal ingredients and farm-to-table produce.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/lucques

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Courtesy: Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse

Steak

Cut | 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Price: Dinner: $85
This Wolfgang Puck steakhouse is a mixture of top notch meat slabs and art, basically everything you could hope for in fine dining. While parking may be a little troublesome, we promise they make up for it in outstanding steak.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/cut

Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse | 330 South Hope Street #100, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Price: Lunch: $20, Dinner: $35
Rave reviews of dry-aged USDA choices and nearly too many a la carte sides to choose from, Nick + Stef’s seems to be the place to indulge in all your carnivorous longings.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/nick-stefs-steakhouse

 

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Scratch Bar | Photo:
MyLastBite

Gastropub  &  New-American

Fundamental LA | 1303 Westwood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Price: Lunch: $15, Dinner: $35
Fundamental LA has the four S’s you look for in a casual dining spot: soup, salad, sides and sandwiches. Sprinkled throughout the menu is more eclectic dinner options such as duck liver jar and japanese sword squid.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/fundamental-la

Scratch Bar | 111 North La Cienega Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Price: Dinner: $45
Heavily influenced by tattoo culture and handmade aesthetic the men of Scratch Bar aim to serve those with a creative slash humorous side and the proof is in the menu – cured pig’s head, squid in a box,  and vanilla ice cream with sprinkles to name a few.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/scratchbar

Mud Hen Tavern | 742 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Price: Dinner: $25
Susan Feniger’s latest restaurant endeavor gives you gourmet pub food with a heavy dose of comfort. This gastropub gives you a range of vegetarian and vegan options with specialty and creatively named IPAs, pilsners, and lagers to wash your palate with.
Menu: http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/search/site/mud%20hen%20tavern

 

BEEN THERE: PARK STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD CULINARY POP-UP WITH CHEF JAMIE LAUREN

We showed up to Park Studios Hollywood last Tuesday (November 12th) for a pop-up dinner of artistic proportions, featuring a creative menu from Top Chef alum Jamie Lauren, while surrounded by the work of showcasing photographers Andrew Kuykendall and Jason Lee Parry.

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The night was one of contrasts and dichotomies—from the atypical restaurant location, to the unusual pairings of tastes and flavors—and while open to the public, the gathering felt decidedly intimate, consisting of friends and faces both new and familiar.

Immediately upon arrival, we were welcomed by Andrew of Park Studios himself, and were provided with custom-designed cucumber lime mixed drinks to accompany our dinner. In the background soft sounds from The XX and Death Cab For Cutie set the mood for the night. One of the highlights of dining in a space typically dedicated to art, included seeing the final display of all the effort that went into re-envisioning the dining experience. As we explored the work displayed on the gallery’s walls, we were struck not only by the sheer utilization of space in the floor room area, but by each carefully set place seating on the single dining table, reflecting a thoughtful consideration of each individual attendant.  Guests were also welcome to bring their own bottles of wine to share with their fellow diners around the table, sparking anticipation and chatter for the impending meal to come.

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Chef Lauren opened the night with a dish that set the standards high for the rest of the evening – presenting a hamachi crudo with lemongrass-kaffir lime oil, pickled chilies, and crispy shallots. The chilies and shallots added a satisfying crunch to the dish’s main component, while the lemongrass and lime brought forth a refreshingly fragrant citrus flavor to the deliciously soft, melt-in-your-mouth hamachi.  It was the dish to transform the essence of an art gallery into that of a full-fledged restaurant. Need I say more?

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After this light dish, our second meal was a creamy celery root soup, topped with a delicate line of mustard oil and two renditions of a single ingredient—freshly-chopped beet relish and a sprinkling of crunchy beet chips.  While some of us had never before tried celery root (let alone were aware that it was edible), the thick smoothness and inviting pumpkin-like color of the soup truly embodied the warmth of the autumn season, while the beet additions gave a hint of tart, contrasting intrigue.

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Our third meal combined a variety of vegetable flavors and textures, including black kale, roasted heirloom carrots, and a smoked chickpea puree, with a drizzling of goat cheese dressing and light dash of berbere.  While colorful and interesting in its use of well-known ingredients, the dish mainly served as a preparation for the main course of the dinner.

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Now onto the main course! It was a new take on the classic meat-and-potatoe-like comfort food, and along with the hamachi, was our personal favorite plate of the night.  With tender slow cooked pork shoulder, curry flavors, and a side of kabocha squash puree and Brussels sprouts. The only downside to this dish was that I was almost too full after eating everything to finish it. But again, I repeat, almost.

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Finally, we ended our night with a not-so-typical chocolate cake to satisfy our cravings for sweetness after all of our savory eats. However, when it comes to dessert, the notion of portion control doesn’t apply to Chef Lauren, and although the individual pretzel-and-potato chip-encrusted chocolate cakes may have been a serving size greater than our stomach capacities could tackle at the conclusion of a five-course meal, we were struck by the originality of the cake itself.  The salty crushed potato chips made for a surprisingly complementary crumble for the sweet chocolate, and though we couldn’t finish our entire desserts (hey, we were busy stuffing ourselves with pork shoulder!), our hosts were kind enough to bring us to-go boxes to take our “miniature” cakes home with us as leftovers for our breakfast – that we were already anticipating.

You can check out more of our dining space for yourself and see the artwork of Andrew Kuykendall and Jason Lee Parry, showing now at Park Studios Hollywood. Be on the lookout for news of future pop-up dinners by following Park Studios on Facebook.

FOOD SCOOPS: ALLUMETTE

 

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Throughout my tenure as Food Editor of LA CANVAS, I‘ve had some good food and I’ve had some great food. I’ve never felt dissatisfied, and I’ve consistently wondered why Jonathan Gold seemed so unimpressed with things I’ve found thoroughly delicious. Maybe, I think, it’s because he’s had too many meals like the one I’m about to describe to you.

Allumette is a fascinating new restaurant from the owners of Echo Park’s Allston Yacht Club, in the same location. Echo Park’s dining scene (well, everything scene) has been flourishing and changing for years now; a step ahead of the curve, Bill Didonna and Charles Kelly decided to close down their old casually hip small-plates eatery and resurrect it as a sophisticated new concept that cannot be so neatly encapsulated by a few buzz words.

After working with 24-year-old Chef Miles Thompson on The Vagrancy Project Pop-up, Didonna and Kelly eagerly recruited him as executive Chef for Allumette. With a profound respect for the foundations of French cuisine, Thompson pulls from the full spectrum of global flavor possibilities with an approach that’s playful as it is cerebral.  In short, the stuff that comes out of his kitchen is a trip. Or as one diner put it, “A cavalcade of wonder.”

Thompson’s menu is short, seasonal and forward-thinking, offering a nightly tasting/pairing menu and a neat selection of around twelve a-la-carte dishes. They aren’t meant to be shared (but we shared them, because they were too intriguing to keep to ourselves) but instead to be ordered in sequence as a personal tasting. Whatever you choose to do, be adventurous (there isn’t really another option. no filet mignon on the menu). And if being decisive isn’t your thing, you should feel entirely confident that whatever Thompson has planned will be more than pleasurable.

The cocktail menu is similarly impressive, with Serena Herrick of Harvard & Stone behind the bar menu. At first we were gigling over seemingly-absurd ingredients like “Velvet Falernum” and “Tangerine Szechuan Peppercorn.” But then we took a sip of our drinks and were swiftly silenced. Wide-eyed, speechless, licking the top of my mouth, all I had to say was Varnish shmarnish. And the bitter libations made more and more sense as the meal unfolded.

The dinner was a learning experience and a work of art. Read on for the photographic play-by-play.

 

drinks

 

On the left, a Negroni Sbagliato (“Sbagliato” meaning miscalculated/wrong/messed-up in Italian), a take on a traditional Negroni. This drink is dark and bitter but bubbly, like a grown-up coca-cola, made with the Italian Vermouth Punt E Mes and fizzy Graham Beck Brut. A bit of Aperol and a fresh sage leaf make it extra fragrant and flavorful.

The cloudy pink beauty is the Blood Meridian, which is kind of an uber-sophisticated, complex margarita made with Vida Mezcal, Luxurado Maraschino, blood orange, lime and kumquat. The rim of black lava salt adds a textural, savory bite.

 

menus

appetizer

 

This is the first thing that Chef Thompson sent out, a gift from the kitchen for every diner. If we weren’t convinced by the cocktails, the butter ball definitely did it (“Oh, this is going to be good”). It’s potato butter with a crispy shell, like a tater tot, mixed with mascarpone and just ready to bathe that piece of toast. Ridiculous.

 

broccolo

 

Sprouting Broccoli, with parmesan sabayon, beet, and black olive vinaigrette. The plate is littered with various herbs and leaves (those flowers taste like cilantro) each gleaming with a glaze and carrying its own pointed, unique taste. This is when things started to get wild.

 

cavatelli

Who put peas in my macoroni???? If peas were this insanely fresh and tasty when I was a child, I probably wouldn’t have minded. But seriously, this was my favorite dish. Cavatelli with uni ragu, English pea puree, braised mushrooms and fromage noir, which is a cheese that hung out with squid ink and turned black and devilishly delicious. Secretly, Chef Thompson also throws meyer lemon and white chocolate chips in there. It’s bananas. Eat it.

 

 

shortrib

Short rib, cooked in pho and surrounded by pretty Vietnamese herbs. The scattered leaves provide a similar experience to the broccoli dish, held down by that hunk of beef that is just INFUSED with delicate spices and sometimes tastes like a ginger snap.

 

porkshoulder

 

Juicy Pork Shoulder wrapped in bacon, with kombu relish, caramelized onions, and feuille de brick (that yellow stuff). All contrasts: sweet and savory, soft and crispy. Like a breakfast sausage but WOW.

 

octopus

 

And finally, the Poached Octopus. This was from the tasting menu, but available a-la-carte. The octopus is the ideal texture and sitting in a small pool of Vadouvan Butter, a butter infused with delicate french curry. The fried quail egg just drips the whole thing in yolky goodness while the  marinated slices of blood orange provide a refreshing contrast.

 

desertmenu

cheesecake

Cheesecake Mousse, with drizzles of maple syrup, some frozen cookie dough and graham cracker bits. Notes of tangy citrus balance out the sweetness so that you’ll easily devour the whole thing (at least I did).

 

Allumette

http://allumettela.com/

1320 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90026

(213) 935-8787