This week Jonathan Gold visits b.o.s., the quietly ambitious offal restaurant in Little Tokyo helmed by chef David Bartnes that's been open since last November. Laying a foundation of Asia's history with animal innards, Gold goes into the nitty gritty of b.o.s.'s dishes, from liver to raw beef tongue.
If you've contemplated the possibility of substituting beef heart for tuna in a modern tataki dish, you may be pleasantly surprised — the slices of raw organ, slightly smoky where they have been seared over Japanese bincho charcoal, may be chewier than they appear but have basically the same luxurious mouth-feel as the fish and the clean, beefy flavor of rare steak.
The tripe "calamari" really do resemble good fried squid, crisp yet elastic, tasting mostly of clean oil. If you didn't know the provenance of the lightly curried fried calves' brains, you might think that you were eating fried soft tofu with your puréed squash. The bone marrow may be somewhat overroasted, but the tendon in the risotto is braised to an exquisite softness — there is about three times as much tendon as rice in the dish — and the tripe and kimchi stew tastes like Sunday night Korean home cooking.
Callin b.o.s. the first restaurant in L.A. dedicated to offal, the Goldster likens the omakase counter to an elegant, if sparsely attended place in a high-floor Roppongi office building in Tokyo. [LAT]
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels
In a quirky coincidence, LA Weekly critic Besha Rodell also takes a look at b.o.s., a nearly three month restaurant that will surely get a tide of new customers after this week. Summarizing Bartnes' rather inventive take on animal innards, Besha gives b.o.s. the two-spot.
"His gung-ho attitude toward the more fiddly bits of our bovine friends is, frankly, refreshing. What Bartnes turns out from his open kitchen isn't always brilliant — in fact, some of it doesn't work at all. But in recent months I've found myself saying to people, "Right now I'd rather have something uneven and unexpected than something perfect and predictable." So, yes, what Bartnes is delivering can be wildly uneven, but there's just as much that does work and is blessedly unexpected." [LAW]
The Elsewhere: Darin Dines revisits Providence, FoodGPS tries the pork liver ceviche at Night+Market, Tasting Table checks out Meizho Dongpo in Century City, GastronomyBlog tries The Factory Kitchen, O Hei There samples the sandos at Orleans & York, and KevinEats tries Kiyokawa.
·All Week in Reviews Coverage [~ELA~]