This week, Besha Rodell pens a review on Charles Olalia and Santos Uy's Downtown lunch counter, Ricebar. The LA Weekly critic uses Olalia's incredible resume (Patina, French Laundry) to explain why LA is the "best food city" in America:
But what Olalia is bringing to Ricebar is [...] more valuable than what many chefs are doing at places like Patina. That kind of food is great and worthy, and I'm not dissing it. It's also available everywhere. But heirloom, fair-trade Filipino black rice covered in hunks of lush avocado, crisp radish, sweet pops of marinated grape tomatoes and tiny, pointy, salty, crunchy fried anchovies? You can only get that here. [LAW]
B. Rod marvels at the floral pork longganisa, perfumed chicken tinola, and extraordinary vinegar condiment that are served from the 275 square foot space, and concludes:
Only in L.A. would a chef leave fine dining — the type of restaurant with a water sommelier (yes, really) — for an almost divey lunch counter in order to showcase heirloom rice. Only in L.A. would we appreciate that so very, very much. New York or whoever can have the best restaurants. I'll take the best food any day. [LAW]
Ricebar scores three stars.
Jonathan Gold heads southeast to the Vietnamese-centric Garden Grove to eat garlic-filled small plates from the newest addition to the Mall of Fortune, Garlic & Chives. The critic is taken with the "familiar-seeming dishes reconfigured in startling new ways," such as the deep-fried salmon belly, fried sea snail rolls, and toothpick lamb that puts that of Chengdu Taste to shame:
And those nuggets of toothpick lamb, saturated with garlic and tossed into a deep fryer until the meat sizzles and browns? The Sichuan-style toothpick lamb at Chengdu Taste is one of my favorite dishes in the San Gabriel Valley, and Chengdu Taste is widely credited with inventing it, but even there the meat is rarely so crisp or so succulent, the flavors of the marinade so concentrated or the chile-tinged sweetness quite so compelling. Welcome to the pantheon, toothpick lamb. [LAT]
The Elsewhere: Midtown Lunch waxes poetic on fried chicken and boudin bites at Krispy Krunchy Chicken, Bill Esparza offers the ultimate guide to mole in LA, TimeOut gives Hatchet Hall four stars, and kevinEats has a decent meal but better beer at The Hermosillo.