The Ten Best Things To Eat In LA Right Now
Here's my list...looking forward to hearing everyone's feedback! Full post with pics at http://fattywantscheese.blogspot.com/
10. Il Covo's White Anchovies with Roasted Peppers
Sometimes the simplest thing on the menu is the one you keep going back for. Il Covo's previous chef, Roberto Maggioni, let the bright briny flavors of fresh white anchovies shine without needless augmentation, instead placing them unadorned on a pinwheel of roasted yellow and red peppers. The sweetness of the peppers lends the perfect balance to the sparkling acidity and rich oils of the fish - nothing more is required. Here's to hoping the new chef agrees.
9. Playa's Tamale Chipotle
I'm usually very skeptical of upmarket presentations of downmarket dishes. There are way too many Kobe beef hot dogs, ridiculous Wagyu burgers with white truffles, and order-it-and-be-forever-shamed cheesesteaks in existence for my liking, and at first glance Playa's filet mignon tamale sounds like it might deserve equal disdain. But it definitely does not. The beef is good, but the real star is the tamale itself, filled with an incredibly earthy masa and rich mushroom duxelle. The smokiness and mild heat of the chipotle bearnaise adds the kick. You won't find find this at your local taco stand but you'll wish you could.
8. Umami Burger's Hatch Burger
Umami Burger has expanded. A lot. And quickly. And now Umami lord Adam Fleischman has opened Umamicatessen, a megaplex downtown hosting 5 restaurants in one. The hubris! some say. He's doomed to fail! He's the Icarus of burgers! Maybe so, but I couldn't care less as long as I can still order and way-too-quickly throw down the glorious Hatch burger, a green chili-and-liquid-cheese bomb of meaty flavor. One of the less obvious secrets of Umami's success is their mastery of ratio: Fleischman and team have perfected the amount of beef to bun, and present it in a way that you can actually pick up and hold it and take a bite without it all falling apart, the way a burger should be eaten. If you find yourself reaching for a fork at your favorite burger joint, it's time to reassess.
7. Ray's and Stark Bar's Hamachi Sashimi
I really wish I could just call it Ray's and not the cumbersome Ray's and Stark Bar. They're really separate entities - the restaurant resides in a bright, airy glass-walled room in LACMA's piazza, while the open-air bar lies adjacent.There is Ray's, and there is Stark Bar. Set them free.
But I digress. Ray's is the perfect restaurant for LACMA, utilizing a modern approach that celebrates L.A. by combining its many disparate elements into an artistic whole. Also, the food is really good. Chef Kris Morningstar's presentation of the ubiquitous hamachi (aka Yellowtail, aka Japanese Amberjack) elevates a standard-issue sashimi offering with the inclusion of tangerines, cilantro, and aji amarillo, a peruvian chili pepper. What could be a better nod to L.A.'s culinary history than pairing Japanese and Peruvian flavors?
6. Drago Centro's Langoustine Carpaccio
The best dishes often begin as a surprise and end feeling as if they were inevitable - how could this NOT have always existed? Celestino Drago did not invent langoustine carpaccio (was it Robuchon? probably not), but when you eat his version, it seems that way: chilled, almost translucent sweet langoustines, pressed thin into a perfect square, dressed barely with whatever is in market at the time. The shellfish doesn't need and doesn't get much - Drago is a chef that recognizes a powerful flavor and does as much as possible to get out of its way.
5. Osteria Mamma's Pappardelle al Fumo
I'm not really sure why anyone would go to La Buca now that Mamma Loredana and her son Filippo are long gone and have their own restaurant right down the street. I guess it's good, because that means an easier path for me to Mamma's fantastic hand-made pastas, the best pastas in L.A. The Pappardelle al Fumo may very well be the best of the best, with the smoke-friendly scamorza melting into the chunky pancetta over a bed of perfectly al dente noodles. It may be even be better heated up the next day.
4. Pizzeria Mozza's Bianca Pizza
I love a white pie. Growing up outside of Philadelphia, the best white pie around was (and probably still is) at Tacconelli's, a brick-oven legend located in Fishtown. You knew Tacconelli's was good because you were willing to go to Fishtown for it. Want beer with your pizza? Feel free to bring it with you. I'm still thinking about their white pie, a simple crispy thin crust topped with mozzarella and plenty of garlic.
The white pie at Pizzeria Mozza dresses things up a bit with four cheeses, including sottocenere, a truffly (is that a word? it should be) Venetian cheese that's starting to appear everywhere, and I'm definitely not complaining. Fried sage is laid on top to provide a sharp textural contrast and some needed saltiness. It's the best pie out of many great contenders. Don't have it delivered because it won't be the same - avoid the wait by claiming a seat at the bar and eating the entire thing as soon as it comes out. Shouldn't be too hard.
3. Sanamluang Cafe's Pad Kee Mow
Sanamluang Cafe has a sign that reads "Best Noodles in Town", and it's hard to disagree with that after you've had their Pad See Ew, flat rice noodles with egg, soy sauce and Chinese broccoli, or even better, their Pad Kee Mow, spicy flat noodles with refreshing mint and pungent green chili. It's criminal how cheap it is - the Pad Kee Mow with pork will run you all of $6.25 - $7.25 if you want to live like a Rockefeller and have it with shrimp - and you'll drive away thinking you just committed robbery eating that well for so little.
2. The Bazaar's Jicama-Wrapped Guacamole
I was so averse to subjecting myself to an SBE-fueled experience that I avoided The Bazaar for nearly three years. I wish I hadn't. Yes, the crowd can be grating, but they'd honestly have to pelt me with full, leaking cans of Axe body spray to get me to even consider staying away now that I've had Jose Andres' food, my favorite example being his perfectly seasoned guacamole with corn chip fragments, housed in a crisp, refreshing Jicama wonton. It's everything you love about chips and guacamole with none of the watching-the-game-on-the-couch heaviness - I've never seen Jicama used to such great effect.
1. Son of a Gun's Smoked Steelhead Roe, Maple Cream, and Pumpernickel
It's hard to get a clear answer as to what exactly a Steelhead is. Is it a trout? Is it a type of salmon? Whatever it is, it produces a ridiculously flavorful roe, and nowhere is it better presented than at Vinny Dotolo's and Jon Shook's celebration of all things salt air. This dish is all about balance: the sweet woodsy flavor of the maple cream, the burnt grain of the pumpernickel crisp, the burst of salinity of the roe. It's my favorite thing to eat right now in L.A., and it's not even close.
1. Gaugry Epoisses at LQ@SK cheese cart
2. Sea urchin congee with echire butter at Red Medicine
3. Braised goat and Vietnamese mints in rice crepe at LQ@SK
4. "Ugly bunch" at Providence: sea urchin, abalone, mirugai on smoked panna cotta
5. Yamadaya All Stars tonkotsu ramen
6. Chicken, sausage, peppers special at P.Mozza
7. Grilled langoustines in broth at Marche Moderne (OC)
8. Brussel sprouts with fish sauce at Red Medicine
9. Soft boiled egg with salmon roe at Torihei
10. Pistachio Gelato at P. Mozza
1st alternate: live king crab steamed with garlic if #7 is disallowed due to it's OC location
A couple more random thoughts:
Lucky Noodle King in SGV - dan dan mien
Gelina Take Away - banana cream pie (I think it's a rotating item - might even be random but the best BCP I've had).
Milo and Olive - garlic knots
Beijing Pie House - any of the meat pies
Gjelina - Vegetable dishes rule - chic peas; any roasted vegetable; mushroom toast.
Fantastic list and beautiful, funny writing....thanks, and welcome to posting here Fatty.
I really think you nailed soemthing that make umami shine - proportionality.
I cannot do 10 now, if I did 5-6 would be Chinese, but I think Tar and Roses roast chicken has leap-frogged a lot of my old favorites. Tsujita's green-onion ramen too.
re: Ciao Bob
Went to Tar and Roses this past weekend. I didn't love their roast chicken - not a fan of the citrus, and my chicken was moist but a bit burnt in spots (and not a good burnt). I liked the place though - the standout for me was the strawberry crostata dessert w/ honeycomb ice cream.
cool list...here are some of mine:
broccolini with garlic and chili pepper at gjelina (super simple and amazing)
orecchiete with spicy sausage at osteria mozza
roasted snapper head at asanebo
salt ramen at santouka
chicken gyro at spitz
feta stuffed roasted chicken at petros
uni oyster and caviar at kzo
the crispy tofu and iberico bahn mi at Saam
pecan pie a la mode at mastros
chicken macho taco at del taco (yea i said it)
1) Cleo: BRUSSELS SPROUTS with Capers, parsley, Almonds, red Wine Vinaigrette
This is the most addictive, wonderful dish imaginable. Cleo also has incredible dips with fresh baked bread... also to die for.
2) Dal Rae: TABLESIDE CAESAR
Simply the best Caesar.
3) Osteria Mozza: RICOTTA & EGG RAVIOLI with Browned Butter
This is so luscious, so wonderful, so sexy. Yum.
4) Osteria Mozza: ORCCHIETTE w/ Sausage and swiss chard
As others have mentioned, this is an incredible pasta.
5) Dan Tana's: THE DABNEY COLEMAN
Remains the best steak I've had in town, even better than Cut, et all. With a side of the spicy red pasta, happiness ensues.
re: Tom P
I have to add a dish to my list:
6) Canele': BEEF BOURGUIGNON
Canele' has terrific food. I had a Veal Chop the other night, with Salsa Verde, that was out of this world. But their Beef Bourguignon, one of dishes that never goes off the menu, is incredible. Chef Corina reduces the gravy so much it is almost like a syrup and is incredibly flavorful. The meat has a wonderful crust as well. To die for.
South Philly Experience Truck - Philly Cheese steak
The Bazaar - The Philly cheese steak
The Bazaar - Jicama Wrapped Guacamole
Guisados - Sampler Taco Plate
Animal - Foie gras Loco Moco
Baco Mercat - The Original Baco Mercat
ink - Spaghetti
Cacao Mexicatessen - Aguacate Frito Taco
Providence - Grilled scallop
Just a few thoughts...
Meant to say Fava Beans. Sorry. This was at the Santa Monica location. Trust me, this was the best preparation of this dish I have ever experienced. The Soft Shell Crab was on the large side and so-o tender. I have never tasted a soft shell crab that was this tender. All of the flavors meshed perfectly. Split a dozen oysters and went on to the crab. Great meal! Love, love, the Naked Cowboy Oysters .
Steelhead is a rainbow trout that spent part of its life in the ocean, and is returning upriver to spawn.
My top 10 contains some cliches. DEAL WITH IT. Also I'm not going to put them in order. Deal with that too.
Best part: EVERYTHING on my list is under 10 bucks. Shazap!
Langer's Corned Beef sandwich w/ whatever toppings you want (It's better than the pastrami, don't tell anyone)
Milo and Olive's Pork Belly Sausage Pizza
Liege Waffes from Patrick Pirson's Liege Waffle Co. Available at a farmer's market near you
Tonkotsu Ramen at Tsujita
Khao Soi at Pailin
Spicy Crispy Duck at Sri Siam (their crispy rice salad is tits also)
Naan Hut's Sangak bread, get it wrapped around a Kabab or made into a pizza if you like.
ZamZam Market's Chicken Biryani and Chicken Tikka - fucking incredible, just ignore their C rating. I'll let you guys know if I get HIV from it but until I do, it's a weekly destination for me.
The last spot, I'm debating between Bawarchi's Jalapeno curry, Simpang's Mie Tek Tek and SaMo Seafood's tuna tartare. These are all great dishes but I'm not sure any of them quite meet the standard set by the other 9 I've listed. But all these places and these dishes in particular get my full blessing, and like I said, none of them are upscale places at all. This is like my hole-in-the-wall, take out top ten
I like your list - your destinations/recs definitely resembles the Chowhound-kind of places when I first started lurking on this site back seven-eight years ago - sigh.
Is ZamZam the place on Washington in Culver City? Chicken Tikka is one of my wife's favorite dishes in the world.
Also glad you mentioned Naan Hut's sangak - one of the most amazing breads in LA.
Yeah it's where one washington meets the other. They have super weird hours. Thurs thru sunday only. Generally you're good if you go at the following times
Thursday - 5-7pm
Friday thru Sunday - 3-5 pm
But if you're really looking for the tikka make sure and call first, their number is listed on their yelp page. They'll hold it for you. It's by far the best chicken tikka I've had. She'll love it.
PS there's a newer place called sangak bakery cafe making sangak in that Kosher area on Pico, Haven't had it yet but I've yet to find a sangak that wasn't outrageous.
We tried zamzam tonight and really enjoyed it. We got shut out on the chicken biryanI ( have to call ahead- I think this calling ahead routine may be a new thread). The chicken tikka was moist and expertly seasoned/roasted - the heat aneaks up on your tongue - the chickwn tandoori was milder in heat but more seasoned. And the freshly baked naan was hot and comforting. The place might be Spartan but the food is straight from the heart.
It was already outed on these boards and I had the same reaction as you. I think the owners are as wary of the crowds as we are...
Zam zam is definitely a hidden gem (emphasis on the word hidden) but the real diamond on that list is the liege waffles.
Everyone needs to try these and support this guy. They're the only liege style waffles I've had outside of Belgium that didn't outright suck, and his are actually superior to most of the ones I had in Belgium.
I personally get them at the west LA farmer's market (near sawtelle and samo blvd) on Sunday. But he's at several markets, call and ask 626 201 1742
Gjelina Take Away - scones
Bhan Khanom Thai - panchi
Drago Centro -- truffle crusted chicken breast
Coni's Seafood -- pescado zarandeado
Pizzeria Mozza -- pizza
Spago --- agnolotti
Gjelina -- gnocchi with honey and brown butter
Marrouch -- muhammara
Urasawa -- seared toro
Tasting Kitchen -- branzino
In No particular order, some may be cliche, also maybe not the best things, but my favorite,some have been mentioned. I have lived in Hong Kong for the past two years, but was born and raised in LA, and these are the things I need to eat when I come home:
Dal Rae Caesar Salad
Lou on Vine Pig Candy
Madeo Calamari Affogati
Sushi Zo Blue Crab Handroll
Jar Creamed Corn
Hollywood Farmer's Market Green Corn Tamale with tomatillo Sauce
Hatfield's Croque Madame
Kogi Black Jack Quesadilla
Marouch Quail with Garlic Sauce
I've got a bunch of others, but these are the things that I find myself craving, completely miss, and that you can't get out of LA.
Well, FattyWantsCheese, these all sound like great places. I am familiar with Sananluang. They have great, authentic Thai food. I love many dishes there. My personal favourite--the Generals Noodle soup. Talk about a rich broth. Because I am a hugh veggie lover, I always ask them to
slightly reduce my noodles. Then I tell them the veggies I want...green onions, bean sprouts, bok
choy and chinese broccoli. Then I get extra garlic along with the spice tray and sail away to heaven. Ooo, I can smell and taste it now.
I love this thread! Here are mine:
- Caesar Brussels Sprouts/Grilled Romesco (tie) - Baco Mercat
- Biscuit & Gravy - Baco Mercat
- Butterscotch Pudding - Lazy Ox Canteen
- Fried Cauliflower - The Spice Table
- Breakfast Tots - Short Order
- Hatch Burger - Umami Burger
- Stir-Fried Green Beans - Din Tai Fung
- Ravioli with Poached Egg - Bottega Louie
- Lamb Belly Roti Canai - Lukshon
- Oxtail Poutine - Animal
hmm... in no particular order:
lobster roll/son of a gun, buttery toast is simple and nice, lobster falls apart in your mouth
beef noodle soup/dai ho, really strong and flavorful, bolder than other shops in the area
green eggs and ham/huckleberry, really lovely perfect breakfast item, nice to look at too
udon/ichimi ann, worth the drive, fresh made i think, i really enjoy the hawaiian music at lunch
bread/ray's stark bar, dinner is superb, maybe cause bread rarely enhances a meal nowadays
pork chop/salt's cure, big chunk of meat to sink your teeth in, most items involving salt here excel
tsukemen/tsujita, tastes on par with what you'd find in tokyo, so satisfying, so fat
spot prawns/any good seafood specialist, its the season for them, i them sauteed with butter
fries with brainaise/umamicatessen pigg, french fries and pig brain sauce is guilty fun
caramel pudding bubble drink/half and half, sweet and yummy, perfect for a hot afternoon
kinda random list i made. i'd say though, that pizza seems to be the real trend now
Much as I love the shout out to Sanamluang's Pad Kee Mow, it's criminal to neglect the mention of their Kanom Pak Kard, which is strangely difficult to find in LA area Thai restaurants. (Although I'm not certain that they still make that at the western incarnation -- I usually eat at the Sanamluang in Pomona)
Going to bump this thread and have to add the abalone and summer black truffle spaghettini at n/naka last night. Outstanding and what dreams are made of with a 2004 Niellon Chevalier Montrachet.
And while I'm at it, I'll also add the kegani (hokkaido hairy crab) at Shunji as one of the best things to eat in LA right now.
Oh, I would, no worries there! Just may take me a while, as we need to have a babysitter for those occasions, and with the busy holiday season already bearing down on us, it may take me a while. And I understand abalone has a "season", so. It may be best to wait for that to come around again......
I've got to say that linguine & clams with uni aglio olio at Son of A Gun was the best thing I've eaten this year, and their fried chicken sandwich that I got to go, and ate about three hours later runs a close second....just phenomenal. I wanted to lick the pasta bowl clean.....but got some bread instead to sop up every last bit of the olio.....
Just about all of those dishes were available at the Alex Loves Lemonade Stand this past weekend. Son of a Gun was so generous with Fried Chicken. Thanks to all of the chefs. Loved the chicken oyster thingie from Sotto, the Fried Ipswich clam sandwich from Providence was fabulous. Can't wait for "connie & ?" their casual seafood restaurant opens. This is the Food Event of the Year. I can not begin to describe all of the wonderful offerings. Getting back on topic: Son of A gun makes damn good fried chicken. How about Pizza Bianco ? OMG,no wonder Nancy and Mario looked to Phoenix for great advice.
Did they happen to have the linguine & clams too? Probably not, I bet that would be a hard thing to make giant orders of....
Will have to sign up for that next year....looks like a great event, but usually shy away from events like that that draw such huge crowds that its inevitable that you get shitty service, long lines & disappointing food.... Thanks for the tip, maudies5
The fried chicken drumstick they served was THE BOMB! As you say, so many great tastes in one place is such a treat.
My other faves:
--Raw bar, with shots of uni and mezcal from Hungry Cat was quite a lot of fun.
--Gordon Ramsay @ the London was serving a poached lobster with a corn pancake that was divine.
re: Ciao Bob
Wish I recognized you, Ciao Bob. . Agree that Hungry Cat's raw Oyster Bar was great. Loved the "peel and eat shrimp" which were already peeled.. Did you happen to have the Sweet Rose Creamery's S'mores? OMG. So much good food and such a great cause. Although, there were about 1400 people there, we never encountered long lines. This was a perfectly organized event. Truly, was the best of the best in Los Angeles, SFO, and those sausages from the New Orleans restaurant were so memorable.
Technically OC but, Belon oysters flown in from Brittany at Shuck Oyster House. Amazing. Bring some champagne.