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Los Angeles next month

My wife and I are back in LA late October. We'll be staying at the Beverly Wilshire and will have a car.

We'll visit "old friends" like Shunji and Bouchon but see a need to branch out a little bit. K-Town recommendations would be appreciated. Also, where is the best octopus? Sweetbreads are always appreciated, liver, too. On a different tack, is Hatfield's worth a visit? Diverse opinions/recommendations are encouraged.

Lastly, where to go for old-school cocktails?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Steve,

    Welcome back.

    If you haven't already tried, n/naka and Night + Market should be high on the list. At Night + Market the fried pig tails and whole braised pork hock were outstanding.


    In K-town, I'm checking out nelehelen's recommendations for crab stew and black goat stew from the below thread, whether it makes DOM or not:


    Hatfield's is reliable and classy. Not the most creative or exciting, but always delicious. They have great service, a wonderful atmosphere, and interesting wine list. Not unique to LA but good all around.

    As for old school cocktails, it's probably hard to find a place NOT doing them these days. Sotto and Red Medicine are close to you. Speaking of which, Red Medicine has been polarizing. Some love it and some hate it. It's worth considering for something very different.

    I hesitate to recommend Italian for obvious reasons. Sotto and Bestia are doing great pasta these days. The rigatoni with chicken liver and maitake mushrooms at Sotto is outstanding.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      Porthos, I'm curious if you've tried Bucato yet?

      1. re: JAB

        Nope. How does it compare to Bestia?

        1. re: Porthos

          I haven't been to either. I work close to Bestia but, I'm back in OC by the time that they open.

          1. re: Porthos

            bestia > bucato
            tho bucato's focaccia is delish.

        2. re: Porthos

          Thanks. LA is always a treat.

          I'll be spending quality time at the Nethercutt Museum in the San Fernando Valley. Any decent lunch spots out there?

          Naples in April, Rome in October. Wife is not happy with this transition but it's a good call.

          1. re: steve h.

            What's not to like about Rome in October? You get both truffle and porcini season. No better time to go for me.

            Love that city. Tied for my all time favorite along with Rio.

            The only thing I've been to up in the SFV is Portos, a cuban bakery. Good cakes. Can't vouch for the food.

            1. re: Porthos

              ::evil laugh::

              Thanks. I'll report back on LA late November.

              1. re: steve h.

                Terroni does a great, thick well charred octopus.
                Ham Ji Park, if you have never been is a K-Town winner. Pork Neck and Potato Soup.
                Hatfields never works for me.
                Chi Spacca is a treat.

                I'll take this moment to say that I am leaving for Rome (also Napoli and Tuscany; all the Tuscan meals are booked but Napoli and Rome are wide open) in one week. So, if either of you have any places you would like share with me feel free to email (it is on my profile). Or, I have been studying your's and Porthos's comments, so you could put the new ideas here:

                TIA Bob

                1. re: Ciao Bob

                  Steve goes annually. You definitely want his input.

                  I do stand by the following:

                  1. La Campana for grilled porcini and fettuccini with white truffles.

                  2. Tempio di Iside for the gamberi rosso, scampi,and whole crab pasta. Scorpion fish pasta was pretty good also, now that I look back through my posts.

                  3. Roscioli. Feel free to bring me back a block of 60 month aged(or was it 48 months) parmigiano reggiano. Meet you at Shunji for pickup ;-)

                  1. re: Porthos

                    I'll keep an eye - and tongue - out for that PR, Porthos. Thanks.

        3. Octopus - the charred octopus at Mozza is my favorite (and I tend to try octopus whenever or wherever it is service.)

          Sweetbreads - Animal and Mozza would tie - but Animal changed their recipe and I haven't tried it yet. So, I'd say Mozza 's picatta with artichoke hearts would reign supreme for me.

          n/naka is a good recommendation.

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodiemahoodie

            That reminds me. Octopus with bottarga is delicious at Sotto.

          2. The octopus with nduja at Bucato is fantastic and the sweetbreads are amazing. As is everything else there.

            1. Octopus: T Equals Fish (K-Town)

              Sweetbreads: chi SPACCA

              1. Tako nigiri: Zo (Downtown)

                Sweetbreads: (tie) Animal & Chi SPACCA

                Old-school cocktails: The Varnish

                Notable (and Google-able) mentions: Ricky's Fish Tacos is now in Chinatown, Clusi Batusi for their Wednesday night pasta, Tsujita for tsukemen (lunch only), Zam Zam Market for their biryani.

                1. for old-school cocktails, Grill on the Alley
                  minutes from your hotel

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: westsidegal

                    also close to your hotel is yojisan sushi, which had outstanding octopus.

                    1. re: linus

                      I tried Yojisan. I had the omakase one time. Reasonable price, better than sushi zo or Shunji. Very fusion, italian japanese but yet amazing

                      1. re: p3rm3n

                        Whoa, them's fighting words. ;-) Haven't been to Zo yet (either location), and while I did enjoy Yojisan very much (I saw you commented my my review of it from last year: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859517) and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it if someone is geographically bound to the area, the sushi is much better at Shunji (in my opinion, of course).

                        1. re: p3rm3n

                          My 2 liras: Shunji, Mori & Yojiasan are all different cats.

                          Shunji is casual omakase, Mori offers more strict Edomae omakase, and Yojisan serves up more Italian-style sashimi (I guess I'd call it "crudo"-esque).

                          They each get my business for different reasons.

                    2. Park's BBQ in Koreatown. Some of the best cuts of meat in all of LA, great service and when you leave your clothes don't smell of smoke at all.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: wienermobile

                        I'd recommend Soot Bull Jeep; or Oo-Kook for AYCE.

                      2. At Animal charred octopus, black sriracha, finger lime, gooseberry...one great dish.

                        The grilled lemon octopus at Fishing with Dynamite,

                        and at Son of a Gun seared octopus salad, mirepoix, chili

                          1. re: A5 KOBE

                            May I ask what you get at R&S?

                            Last I was there after a quick visit to LACMA for a friends exhibit, the only thing we enjoyed was the "Pork Fries". The "Burger Benedict" that I enjoyed when it first opened was so sad, I wanted to cry.

                            Or are you recommending R&S for the "water menu"?

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I really enjoyed the octopus with burrata and fresno chili. It was pretty damn good.

                            2. re: A5 KOBE

                              Glad this got mentioned. This is a seriously good octopus dish. Maybe my favorite of all time actually.

                            3. why would you come to LA and eat at Bouchon? That place is so average and overrated.

                              I would go to Hatfields every single time over Bouchon, so yes, it's worth a visit if you haven't been.

                              For ktown reqs, Park's BBQ for the best quality korean bbq. OB Bear for some good korean pub grub. Get the fried chicken.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: TailbackU

                                Ah, a Bouchon skeptic.

                                I like the fried chicken there. I eat it upstairs at the bistro at the the pewter bar. The bartender there is really good. Liver, when they have it, is exceptional.

                                I also like lunch downstairs on the patio. Their quiche of the day and a glass of wine always puts a smile on my face.

                                Comfortable shoes.

                                1. re: TailbackU

                                  Why would you insult one who likes Bouchon? In your opinion it is "average." In my opinion Bouchon, upstairs and downstairs is always excellent. BTW, have not been to Hatfield's. If I decide to venture east of the 405 I have my personal favorites.

                                  1. re: maudies5

                                    I'm not insulting him for liking Bouchon. Simply pointing out that there are far better options in our city than Bouchon.

                                  2. re: TailbackU

                                    Melisse triumph hathfield or bouchon

                                    1. re: p3rm3n

                                      Melisse is also more expensive...

                                  3. 10 Pound is really cool for a few pricy drinks, just across street from you. Have your concierge book it.


                                    Also nearby is Barney Greengrass -- having brunch on their patio looking out over BH and the Hollywood sign is also fun. The smoked fish ain't bad either.

                                    1. K-town - Beer belly, Parks
                                      Octopus - Tasting Kitchen, Venice

                                      Other recs:
                                      Freddy Smalls for cocktails & great food at the bar
                                      n/naka high end Japanese with wonderful wine & sake pairings
                                      Nobu in Malibu beautiful and right on the beach

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                        Speaking of which, how was your recent B-Day meal at n/naka? Have you posted about it?

                                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                          Also looking forward to your n/naka report! Sounds like you liked it :-)

                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                            I must have missed your review of n/naka, DWEO. How did you like it? I'm assuming it was good, since you're recommending it.

                                            1. re: J.L.

                                              It was wonderful, no you didn't miss anything, as I have been way to busy to even compose a post about it. Didn't take too many pics either, but was pleased that they included the abalone-truffle pasta in the 13 course tasting menu we did. Some of the sakes & wines blew me away. I need a wine distributor in my life.....

                                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                I heard many great things about nnaka. I am looking foward to try it

                                          2. Sotto is close and does great octopus, pasta and pork chop

                                            1. I live in Ktown (I'm Chinese) and some of my favorites are Ham Ji Park's pork neck stew (as someone else mentioned) and Jeon Ju's dolsot bibimbap (hot stone rice). The first time I had both were life-changing experiences. As for KBBQ, there are just too many places to name - a place popular with Koreans is Kang Hodong Baekjeong.

                                              There are also places in Ktown that serve live octopus. Well, the legs are cut off and then served to you on the plate. When you put the octopus in your mouth, it's still squirming and it sucks onto the inside of your mouth. It's a fun experience.

                                              1. The octopus at Girasol is hard to beat.

                                                Sweetbreads: Animal does a good job.

                                                I've wanted to like Hatfield's; but it's one of those places that's good but not great. They're not priced too high, so it's not like I ever feel like I haven't got my money's worth. But there are always dishes that are quite good, and those that are not so good. An example are the short ribs, which are very good; as compared to the wild mushroom and buckwheat crepe, which didn't have anything interesting involved and the beets were overcooked. Is it worth a visit? I guess it depends on how long you're staying. There are plenty of other places to try first. <postscript - Hatfields is definitely worth visiting for dessert. Karen Hatfield is one of the best dessert chefs in town, imho>

                                                Regarding old school cocktails, I guess it depends on which school. A couple of places to consider: Musso's, Hollywood Roosevelt, HMS Bounty, Taix, the list goes on....

                                                1. Reporting back. Here are some short takes on our week-long stay:

                                                  Shunji, for the second year in a row, gets my "Best Restaurant in Los Angeles" award. We went there for lunch. The sushi omakase was superb: tuna cheek, live scallop, live prawn, oh my! The prawn head, still wiggling it's antennae, was secreted away only to reappear as a closing dish. It had been fried. I bit into it not knowing what to expect. It was the best crisp ever! All-in-all, I consumed well over 20 pieces. Shunji and staff were warm, welcoming and great to chat with. It's a fun place to eat. We'll be back.

                                                  Scarpetta and I go back to the month Scott Conant opened his first shop in Manhattan's meatpacking district. Prosecco to start. I always order both the creamy polenta and the beef short ribs as an app. I mix 'em together and the waiter spoons truffled mushrooms over the top. This is comfort food. My main was a tagliatelle with shaved truffles. Excellent. Service was prompt and efficient.

                                                  Red Medicine was a study in contrasts: highs included a wonderful Hungarian sparkling wine; a fantastic riff on duck liver; and a decent plate of sweetbreads. Not as successful were the brassicas and the foraged mushrooms. Red Medicine is high maintenance in the sense that it challenges the diner to correctly combine all elements on the plate and transition that combination to the fork. I'd go back but I don't think my wife would.

                                                  After a challenging day of touring, sometimes a simple meal works best.

                                                  Il Buco in Beverly Hills serves a very good burrata caprese (Gioia?). They also make a pretty good pizza Margherita. The thin-crust pizza is very much in the style of Rome, not Naples and that's ok by me. A welcome surprise was the killer mushroom risotto. They also have a wonderful selection of moderately priced wines. The boss took it upon himself to serve us. In short, the hospitality could not have been better. Most of the diners were speaking Italian.

                                                  Bouchon, also in Beverly Hills, was another goto place for small plates. We treated the street-level bar as our late-night destination: great quiche; fried calamari the equal of Sand Bar in Monterey (although different); decent pate; decent bread and so on. Service was attentive, professional and fun to chat with.

                                                  Drinks are important.

                                                  THE Blvd at the Beverly Wilshire was our goto bar every day at 4 p.m.. Pepe's crew is the A Team. My vodka gimlets were always spot on, my wife's Sancerre was always a generous pour. Both the bars at Scarpetta and Bouchon build solid drinks and serve excellent small bites.

                                                  Epic fail.

                                                  Between touring and work we never made it to K-Town.

                                                  10 Replies
                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                    Sounds wonderful. I love vodka gimlets too..... You'll just have to come back to go to K-town.....

                                                    1. re: steve h.

                                                      Red Medicine is high maintenance in the sense that it challenges the diner to correctly combine all elements on the plate and transition that combination to the fork.
                                                      I think this may be spot on and perhaps explain some of the highs and lows?

                                                      Great round up and thanks for reporting back!

                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                        Yep. I'd like to think I got the plating concept early on in the meal but my one visit didn't allow me sufficient time to fully exploit what chef was trying to convey. I'll do better next time.

                                                        Los Angeles is one hell of a food destination.

                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                            Thank you.

                                                            I think of Los Angeles the same way I think of the five boroughs in New York City (home turf). It's so huge in terms of square mileage and so incredibly diverse that I'll never wrap my head around all that it has to offer. But that won't stop me from trying.

                                                      2. re: steve h.

                                                        Thanks steve, so nice to hear about your trip!

                                                        1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                          Thanks Bob,

                                                          Every waiter, waitress, barkeep, sushi chef made us feel welcome. And that includes the little shops I didn't mention.

                                                          1. re: steve h.

                                                            Great of you to give a nice report after inspiring a good thread.

                                                            All of the places you mentioned were close to your hotel. I hope you used that car more for day activities. But a smart way to negotiate L.A. -- pick a location and visit the best there -- avoids freeway frustration and uncertainty. Especially when you can treat yourself to a very upscale venue.

                                                            1. re: nosh

                                                              Hi nosh,

                                                              We racked up a few miles: Pasadena for the Huntington Library and the rose garden; Sylmar for the Nethercutt Museum (we're gear heads); Venice and Santa Monica; Paramount Studios; and so on.

                                                              My wife and I used to stay downtown but it's such a pain driving in and out that we settled on Beverly Hills as our base of operations. Stress levels are no longer in the red.