This week, Jonathan Gold begins and ends his review discussing the leftovers from his meal at Bone Kettle. The Pasadena restaurant “custom-designed for third dates” by chef Erwin Tjahyadi, who the Times critic essentially calls “an Indonesian Roy Choi,” specializes in bone broth that is poured over noodles:
The broth is murky, pale and bone-fragrant, closer to a seolleongtang than to anything I’ve ever tasted in a Southeast Asian restaurant, complex and yet simple as milk. You can flavor your broth with fried shallots, chile sambal or a few drops of what smells like but probably isn’t fino sherry. The noodles are essentially curly, chewy ramen noodles. [LAT]
The Goldster has harsher words for Tjahydai’s Indonesian-leaning small plates:
So his rendang, the long-braised beef dish that is an Indonesian standard, is dense, salty and umami-rich instead of spoonably soft and smelling of sweet spice, and his citrus-brined chicken wings are heartier, stickier than the traditional double-cooked Indonesian bird. The oxtail dumplings — they go through a lot of oxtail here — are thick-skinned and clumpy, although I liked the demiglace-rich filling. There may be nothing wrong with the tangy, too-sweet papaya salad or the lemongrass-scented steak tartare, although both dishes verge on blandness. [LAT]
Perhaps it is the blandness of the food that leads the Goldster to repurpose his leftovers:
Crunchy wisps of meat from fried oxtail tips would probably be nice with fried noodles, or even stirred cold the next morning into Bone Kettle’s gently flavored crab fried rice. The bouncy gnocchi made from purple yams, tossed with duck meat and dried apricot, are a little bland at the restaurant but might improve with a bit of chile sauce and a quick run under a broiler. The quart of organic, grass-fed bone broth left over from a few orders of the main course? It’s meant for congee, obviously, simmered with a handful or two of cooked rice the next morning until it coalesces into porridge. [LAT]
Ultimately, it isn’t a great sign when a large portion of the review is focused on what can be done with everything that wasn’t consumed at the restaurant. The review ends recommending the crab fried rice, citrus brined chicken wings, noodles and broth, and fatty brisket.