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Creative Offal, But Sometimes Shaky Execution at b.o.s.

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Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Photo by Elizabeth Daniels

Little Tokyo got a nice feather in the cap with b.o.s., the curiously named offal omakase spot opened up last November. With a straightforward interior and meat-centric menu, it's definitely a departure from the usual noodle and sushi spot in this part of Downtown. Helmed by David Bartnes and founded by Jun Isogai, the news has been mostly positive regarding b.o.s., but not everything is perfect on the ranch. Here now, the good, the bad, the sort-of-ugly at b.o.s.

The Word from Jonathan Gold: "The new b.o.s. may be the first dedicated offal restaurant in Los Angeles, a temple of cattle insides where the waiter sighs about the unavailability of lungs, the main decoration on the wall is a mural on which the names of cow organs are arranged in the shape of a cow and the menu features a liver of the day the way that other restaurants do their daily soup...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." [LA Times]

The Raw Heart News: "Miso heart is basically raw, well, lightly seared, slices of beef heart with a miso dressing and slices of mushroom. I've only had cooked heart (can't remember which animal) before, so this was a change. I found the heart to be a little chewy, and I wish they'd cut it into thinner pieces. My companion remarked that it was a bit too raw." [Yelp]

The House Dry-Aged Meat News: "Omakase menu was great at $55, and we ordered an incredible 20 oz dry age ribeye steak on top of it to share, and we were all ridiculously happy and stuffed. (They dry age their meat in house, in a visible dry-aging chamber.) The Omakase menu, which changes every day, consisted of small dishes such as Indonesian Spring Roll, Beef Chain & Tendon Glass noodle salad, a b.o.s.trami slider (b.o.s.-style Pastrami), a Indonesian short rib and Hunan short rib. Closed with a homemade donut. I enjoyed the various textures, seasoning, cooking techniques etc that the chef applies to each dish, and it made me forget that i was eating just one animal." [Chowhound]

The Word from Besha Rodell: "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.'" [LA Weekly]

The Petite Filet News: "I was a little surprised to see a filet here, though of course it's within the nose-to-tail parameters. It was cooked well with an imbued smokiness but naturally just wasn't the most flavorful cut of beef. Given the savory depth displayed in the previous dishes, this one just wasn't as memorable...I enjoyed the meal at b.o.s. finding it, for the most part, well-executed and pretty tasty. With the $55 omakase we left stuffed (it was both a large quantity and generally heavier dishes), I may opt for a la carte next time. Chef Bartnes' world travels definitely were on display and I just found the food to be very interesting." [Darin Dines]

The Flintstonian Hunk of Meat News: "It is likely, however, that in B.o.s.' best dishes you won't notice the offal at all. Strips of honeycomb tripe, hidden inside a cauldron of fiery kimchi stew ($14), are cooked until they become supple, interspersed with soft spheres of scallion gnocchi. Another highlight is the Flintstonian hunk of bone-in short rib ($24) rubbed with chilies and cumin and served over a bed of ginger-sautéed kale."

The Feeling Like a Boss News: "b.o.s. braises its bone-in Hunan short rib for 18 hours in chili peppers and spices so that it's so succulent you can pick it apart with your chopsticks. Also: tender, miso-marinated beef hearts and tripe. This exceptional Japanese nose-to-tail spot will please any carnivore — and it's pronounced boss, which is how you feel when you leave." [Yelp]

The Marriage of Japanese and Korean News: "I love the marriage of japanese seasoning with a korean spice called Gochujang served with soft egg mixed for you right at your table. Spread this on their oh so flacky fresh bread and its H-E-A-V-E-N! The lobster uni pasta with its perfectly al dente pasta is a must for any new comer. [Yelp]

· All b.o.s. Coverage [~ELA~]
· All Good News/Bad News Coverage [~ELA~]


434 E. 1st St. Los Angeles, CA