This week, Jonathan Gold reviews Lasa, Chad and Chase Valencia's semi-permanent pop-up restaurant that takes place on weekend evenings in Far East Plaza's restaurant incubator, Unit 120. The critic describes the concept as "more or less the center of Pinoy-California cooking in Los Angeles at the moment, an informal dining room with an elegant set menu that vibrates with the flavors of the Philippines."
That translates to cooking that "captures not just the joy of delicious, super-fatty party eats, but the extreme regionality of the dishes in the Philippines' zillion islands," in dishes like "subliminal" kinilaw and pancit noodles:
So on a set menu — they change monthly — there may be a bowl of pancit noodles tossed with butter, a bit of fragrant calamansi lime juice and shavings of egg yolks that have been cured with patis, the strong Filipino fish sauce: It's like an umami-rich Pinoy take on spaghetti carbonara. You may see a Caesar salad made with a few drops of that patis in place of the anchovies, a loose egg custard with crab and peppery calamansi-zest paste that resembles an elegant Filipino look at a Japanese chawanmushi, and a slab of exquisitely crisp fried pig's foot on a bed of the Etruscan grain farro fried into crunchy, chewy ball bearings. [LAT]
Ultimately, Lasa turns out looking like a shining example of the "Pinoy-cooking boom in Los Angeles."