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Los Angeles next month

steve h. Sep 25, 2013 05:37 PM

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.

  1. steve h. Nov 5, 2013 12:40 PM

    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.
    Bummer.

    10 Replies
    1. re: steve h.
      d
      Dirtywextraolives Nov 5, 2013 01:00 PM

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

      1. re: Dirtywextraolives
        steve h. Nov 5, 2013 01:05 PM

        Yes.

      2. re: steve h.
        Porthos Nov 5, 2013 01:03 PM

        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
          steve h. Nov 5, 2013 01:26 PM

          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: steve h.
            J.L. Nov 5, 2013 05:40 PM

            Great to read your report!

            1. re: J.L.
              steve h. Nov 5, 2013 06:32 PM

              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.
          Ciao Bob Nov 5, 2013 01:35 PM

          Thanks steve, so nice to hear about your trip!

          1. re: Ciao Bob
            steve h. Nov 5, 2013 01:52 PM

            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.
              n
              nosh Nov 5, 2013 10:06 PM

              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
                steve h. Nov 6, 2013 12:35 PM

                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.

        3. lil mikey Oct 20, 2013 10:00 PM

          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. y
            yizhang Sep 30, 2013 05:36 PM

            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. t
              Thor123 Sep 28, 2013 03:57 PM

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

              1. d
                Dirtywextraolives Sep 27, 2013 08:11 AM

                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
                  JAB Sep 27, 2013 08:27 AM

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

                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                    Porthos Sep 27, 2013 09:41 AM

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

                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                      J.L. Sep 27, 2013 03:57 PM

                      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.
                        d
                        Dirtywextraolives Sep 28, 2013 06:27 PM

                        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
                          p
                          p3rm3n Oct 7, 2013 12:53 AM

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

                    2. j
                      jessejames Sep 26, 2013 05:05 PM

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

                      http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/02/...

                      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. t
                        TailbackU Sep 26, 2013 02:52 PM

                        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
                          steve h. Sep 26, 2013 05:36 PM

                          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
                            m
                            maudies5 Oct 1, 2013 09:30 PM

                            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
                              t
                              TailbackU Oct 7, 2013 11:49 AM

                              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
                              p
                              p3rm3n Oct 7, 2013 12:52 AM

                              Melisse triumph hathfield or bouchon

                              1. re: p3rm3n
                                PeterCC Oct 7, 2013 09:51 AM

                                Melisse is also more expensive...

                            3. A5 KOBE Sep 26, 2013 11:44 AM

                              Ray's and Stark

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: A5 KOBE
                                ipsedixit Sep 26, 2013 01:18 PM

                                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
                                  A5 KOBE Sep 26, 2013 02:09 PM

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

                                2. re: A5 KOBE
                                  s
                                  Stravinsky Nov 5, 2013 03:07 PM

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

                                3. wienermobile Sep 26, 2013 08:42 AM

                                  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. wienermobile Sep 26, 2013 08:40 AM

                                    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
                                      TripleAxel Sep 26, 2013 04:52 PM

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

                                    2. westsidegal Sep 25, 2013 11:45 PM

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

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: westsidegal
                                        l
                                        linus Sep 26, 2013 05:17 AM

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

                                        1. re: linus
                                          p
                                          p3rm3n Oct 7, 2013 12:54 AM

                                          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
                                            PeterCC Oct 7, 2013 09:53 AM

                                            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
                                              J.L. Oct 7, 2013 05:20 PM

                                              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. J.L. Sep 25, 2013 08:27 PM

                                          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. ipsedixit Sep 25, 2013 06:35 PM

                                            Octopus: T Equals Fish (K-Town)

                                            Sweetbreads: chi SPACCA

                                            1. b
                                              budlit Sep 25, 2013 06:14 PM

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

                                              1. f
                                                foodiemahoodie Sep 25, 2013 06:08 PM

                                                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
                                                  Porthos Sep 25, 2013 06:29 PM

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

                                                2. Porthos Sep 25, 2013 05:56 PM

                                                  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.

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/910928

                                                  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:

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/909323

                                                  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
                                                    JAB Sep 25, 2013 06:05 PM

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

                                                    1. re: JAB
                                                      Porthos Sep 25, 2013 06:29 PM

                                                      Nope. How does it compare to Bestia?

                                                      1. re: Porthos
                                                        JAB Sep 25, 2013 07:05 PM

                                                        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
                                                          n
                                                          namstermonster Sep 27, 2013 12:10 PM

                                                          bestia > bucato
                                                          tho bucato's focaccia is delish.

                                                      2. re: Porthos
                                                        steve h. Sep 25, 2013 06:19 PM

                                                        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.
                                                          Porthos Sep 25, 2013 06:36 PM

                                                          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
                                                            steve h. Sep 25, 2013 06:39 PM

                                                            ::evil laugh::

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

                                                            1. re: steve h.
                                                              Ciao Bob Sep 26, 2013 01:55 PM

                                                              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:
                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7757...

                                                              TIA Bob

                                                              1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                Porthos Sep 26, 2013 02:07 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  Ciao Bob Sep 26, 2013 02:31 PM

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

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