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Josef Centeno Teases Out the Essence of Vegetables at P.Y.T.

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So says LA Weekly critic Besha Rodell

Wonho Frank Lee

This week, Besha Rodell finally reviews P.Y.T., chef Josef Centeno’s vegetable-centric concept that opened in September 2016. The LA Weekly critic begins by giving the chef a nod for being one of the first to push the now ubiquitous vegetable trend, with B. Rod noting that “chefs could learn a thing or seven from the vegetables section on Bäco Mercat's menu, the one from five years ago or the one from today.”

The restaurant that shares a space with Ledlow “is more focused on the soul of the vegetable itself, and the best way to frame singular ingredients so they shine.” This is exemplified by the turnip dish that Jonathan Gold also praised in his review. B. Rod states:

This was perhaps best evidenced with a dish Centeno served early on, in which he figured out how to get the most turnip-y flavor from a turnip by wrapping it in a hoja santa leaf and baking it for hours in a salt dough crust. He'd bring the whole thing to the table and crack it open in front of you, cut the turnip into pieces, and drizzle it with some shiso-inflected chimichurri. The essence of hoja santa that had lightly infused the vegetable and the shiso in the sauce brought out the turnip's wilder, more anise-adjacent qualities, while the hours in the oven turned its sugars in upon themselves. It was like turnip squared; turnip to the power of turnip. [LAW]

P.Y.T. doesn’t walk away unscathed, however, with the critic bemoaning the desserts that don’t make “enough use of fruit in the same way the chef approaches vegetables.” Besha also takes issue with pricing, like she did at Kismet, explaining “you can easily spend $60 for two people at brunch or lunch with no drinks and walk away hungry.”

Those issues don’t seem to take away from the overall experience of the restaurant, as the review ends by stating “that among this new wave of vegetable-focused restaurants, Josef Centeno's is by far the best.” P.Y.T. earns three stars.


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