This week, Jonathan Gold returns to the San Gabriel Valley (albeit, the Northern side) at Arcadia's Awu Delicious Food, a Henanese restaurant that features the likes of koi fish jello (flavored of pigs blood), a scalded salad of veggies, and braised oxtail. It's a vintage piece from the critic who really made his mark uncovering the little-known ethnic restaurants spread across Los Angeles:
A third menu is more focused on the chef's specialties, although you will also run across pictures of dishes presumably available in Zhengzhou but not yet in Arcadia. "Farewell My Concubine" braised soft-shell turtle may well be on the menu in Arcadia, but I haven't yet had the presence of mind to figure it out...
"Scalded health food" is a salad of blanched, chilled strands of vegetables and chewy fungus that you toss with wispy croutons and a nutty dressing. Clear, cool yam noodles are tossed with an intense mix of herbs that includes mint. Braised oxtail is served in a mellow, chalk-white broth flavored with peanuts. Sliced pork belly is steamed over a bed of pickled mustard greens and served with fluffy white buns to wrap them in, as if it were Beijing duck. [LAT]
There's nothing mind-blowing here, no great leaps forward in culinary innovation. Travi is simply cooking the kind of food we want to eat at a breezy Venice cafe, and cooking it very well...
The appetizer selection is dominated by things on toast: pain au levain topped with burrata and a walnut-pomegranate paste (perhaps inspired by the Persian stew made of the same components), or supple, thinly sliced, uber-piggy testa with hot pepper jelly...
And if we had to sum up the fantasy of what Venice embodies, wouldn't that be it? Superba Food & Bread has taken the legacy of the original Superba and extended it — to the east, to breakfast and lunch, and to an otherwise graceless expanse of Lincoln Boulevard. If your international kidnapping ended here, you'd be very, very lucky. [LAW]
Brad Johnson of LA Register is off this week, staying down in Orange County to review The Winery. [OCR]
[Michael] Hung puts his spin on classics, like kimchee and chilies on deviled eggs, or kombu seaweed and miso cream on steak tartare. And he really knows how to amp up the decadence level on everything. Handmade pastas are wonderful, especially the oxtail-stuffed agnolotti smothered in bone-marrow butter with beef tendon chicharrones sprinkled on for texture. We couldn't figure out what made something as simple as fresh English peas and beets so incredibly creamy and flavorful: creme fraiche, of course. We'd eat that country ham gravy (which comes with bacon-wrapped tenderloin) with biscuits any day—with anything, really. And the sturgeon, a meaty fish you rarely see on L.A. menus, was cooked perfectly and draped with pickled mustard seeds to set off its natural richness. [Angeleno]
The Elsewhere: MyLastBite on Guerilla Tacos, Darin Dines tries POT, Deep End Dining digs ChocoChicken, and ShopEatSleep goes to Dailly Dose Cafe.
· All Week in Reviews Coverage [~ELA~]