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The Best Dishes Eater LA Editors Ate This Week, March 2018

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Mining the latest dining gems LA has to offer

Hayden
Jambon de Bayonne waffle from Hayden
Crystal Coser

As professional eaters, the editors of Eater LA make it a habit of eating out several times a week, if not per day. That means there are always standout dishes that deserve their time in the limelight. Here now, the very best of everything the team has eaten recently.

March 23, 2018

Jambon de Bayonne waffle from Hayden

Hayden
Jambon de Bayonne waffle from Hayden
Crystal Coser

It’s easy to watch Golden Hour slink into night at Hayden, largely thanks to its eclectic wines that help facilitate the slurping of a copious supply of freshly shucked oysters. But when in need of something a little more substantial, the standout on the menu has breakfast-for-dinner lovers (and all good food lovers) reeling. The jambon de Bayonne waffle; a dish built of a buckwheat flour base, perfectly oozy egg, honey butter, and that gorgeous cured ham from southern France; exemplifies what happens when good ingredients are left alone to shine. Eaten together with the oniony zap of chive, and the synergy of salty and sweet that is reminiscent of both the American and French South has everyone at the table clamoring for another bite. 8820 Washington Blvd Ste 101, Culver City —Crystal Coser

Bean and cheese burrito from Al & Bea’s

Al & Bea’s
Bean and cheese burrito from Al & Bea’s
Farley Elliott

This week I quietly got my wisdom teeth removed, after a few days of suffering through a mouth that felt like it was trying to swallow a jackhammer. The odd thing about not being able to chew is that you don’t lose the desire to eat everything delicious, it’s just that the pain threshold keeps you away. Hence the journey into the loving embrace of the classic Al & Bea’s bean and cheese burrito. Soft and smooth with just the right amount of delicate chew to the tortilla, this classic cash only meal is something of a Los Angeles culinary treasure, having lasted since 1966 at the same location.

Today an average lunch lineup might include a few nurses from a nearby hospital, two police officers, some kids skipping school, a food writer or two, and the greater Boyle Heights community. It’s the kind of eclectic clientele that has kept Boyle Heights so popular for so long, and a reminder that, in the end, good food — or great, as is the case with the bean and cheese burrito from Al & Bea’s — always wins. 2025 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights —Farley Elliott

Marked salad from Lodge Bread

Lodge Bread
Market salad from Lodge Bread
Matthew Kang

Inspired by a recent trip to Israel, Lodge Bread owners Or Amsalem and Alex Phaneuf have taken off their chopped salad in favor of an ever changing “market salad” loaded with pristine vegetables like sweet peppers, onions, turnips, and cucumbers, doused with a some vinaigrette and placed above one of the Culver City restaurant’s whole wheat pita bread slices. Eventually Amsalem told me they had forgotten to lace in some tahini over the top, and while the extra nutty flavor was nice, it really wasn’t necessary. The whole thing was so simple and fresh, but felt grounded in a bakery because of that fantastic grilled pita that it was nice to take a departure from the world of meat. 11918 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA —Matthew Kang

Blueberry Hand Pie With Cornmeal Ice Cream from The Henry

The Henry
Blueberry hand pie from The Henry
Mona Holmes

The Henry boasts that they are “the best neighborhood restaurant,” which feels a bit unusual considering the Henry’s take over the former Newsroom space, a legendary local and tourist favorite for day-long snacking and people watching. But the Henry is enticing, and will fit right in West Hollywood with a menu that could be described similarly. They also created some comfort food items in small packages, including the blueberry hand pie. These little pockets have incredibly flavorful dough stuffed with blueberries, and lightly dusted with powdered sugar. What elevates this simple dessert to star status, is the cornmeal ice cream. This creation falls right in the middle of the savory and sweet scale, with a slight textured crunch to accompany the pie. And it highly succeeds. 120 North Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles —Mona Holmes

Korean fried chicken from Bonchon Chicken

Bonchon Chicken
Korean fried chicken from Bonchon
Euno Lee

Bonchon Chicken is back, ladies and gents, and it’s tucked away adjacent the strip mall that contains Hui Tou Xiang and the artist formerly known as Luscious Dumplings in San Gabriel. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, now would be the time to experience Bonchon’s uniquely UX-friendly brand of Korean fried chicken without having to drive down to Costa Mesa. Skip the strips and opt for the drums or wings, where the subtle soy garlic glaze gives way to the schmaltzy flavor of perfect, confit-like chicken skin, or the spicy gochujang-glazed wings, where the heat comes slowly and crescendoes to a fever pitch. 710 W Las Tunas Ste 3, San Gabriel —Euno Lee

March 19, 2018

Chicken chow mein from Wah’s Golden Hen

There is something so classic about Wah’s Golden Hen, situated right across the street from Sqirl in rapidly-changing Virgil Village. The endcap eatery sits at the far side of a run of low-slung commercial storefronts and would be easy to overlook were it not for the faded golden sign hanging overhead, or the in-the-know whispers about its popularity that one often hears in food circles. Wah’s has a reputation built on giant plates of Chinese-American dishes like beef with broccoli, sweet and sour chicken, and massive egg rolls, and it’s an entirely deserved one.

There is a large section devoted to fried rice and another to the secret star of the show, the chow meins, offered hot and fast from the nicest owner one can imagine interacting with anywhere in Los Angeles. It’s easy to come to Wah’s Golden Hen with too many friends, order too much food, stay too long and smile too much — then turn around and do it again next week without blinking. That’s not something one can say about a lot of places in Los Angeles, and it makes Wah’s all the more important. 709 N. Virgil Ave., Virgil Village. —Farley Elliott

Five spice rotisserie duck at Momofuku Las Vegas

Five Spice Rotisserie Duck at Momofuku Las Vegas
Crystal Coser

David Chang has a knack for all things large format. At Majordomo, it’s the APL-style short ribs served in the manner of Korean bossam that arrives on every expense account table. In Vegas, what may be the mecca of three-figure menu items, the five-spice duck is the go-to for high rollers. Sliced tableside, the aromatic bird is served over rice with bibb lettuce, chive pancakes, kimchi, hoisin, and Chang’s signature ssam sauce, allowing the duck to be swaddled in the manner of both the Korean and Chinese.

The star of the show, however, is the most humble part of the preparation: the remaining bones are brought back to the kitchen to be fried before being served again to the diners. No matter what the VIP status of the guest, everyone gnaws at the delicious bones using their hands, a primal act that grounds the glitz and glam of everything at The Cosmopolitan. Momofuku at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas 3708 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas —Crystal Coser

Crispy tacos at Tito’s Tacos

Tito's Tacos
Tacos from Tito’s
Stan Lee

Be prepared when pulling up to Tito’s Tacos, because there is always a line. Regulars know not to worry because Tito’s cashiers and kitchen are incredibly efficient. Watching the flutter of activity in Tito’s kitchen is mesmerizing, when considering the sheer volume of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and tostadas generated everyday. You won’t be able to recognize the meat inside the taco shell, because the toppings completely overflow with lettuce and yellow cheese. Lean over the rectangular brown box before taking a bite, so that nothing is wasted. After a taste, you will know why the small taco stand has been open since 1959. 11222 Washington Place, Culver City. —Mona Holmes

Downtown-style tantanmen from Killer Noodle

Downtown-style tantanmen from Killer Noodle
Downtown-style tantanmen from Killer Noodle
Matthew Kang

Killer Noodle hasn’t quite received the same glory that its sister ramen shops Tsujita and Annex have received on this block. It might because Killer Noodle holds nothing back when it comes to flavor. It’s just an onslaught of salt, fat, spice, and everything in between, which could potentially turn some folks off looking for balance. The Tokyo-style tantanmen is basically the classic Chinese dandanmien with more broth (the soupless one is literally a facsimile but with alkaline noodles) while the Downtown-style has a bit of a swagger. The lack of sesame-nuttiness lets more of the sansho pepper shine, so much so that even a level 4 (out of 6) is spicy enough to cause mild capsacin euphoria. Think of it like a Korean-Chinese classic champoong but with a dense porky broth instead of a seafood one. The only qualm here might be the cash-only policy — it’s both antiquated and draconian. 2030 Sawtelle Blvd. —Matthew Kang

March 9, 2018

Nem Nuong at Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa

Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Nem Nuong
Crystal Coser

While Vietnamese restaurants that specialize in pho run rampant in Los Angeles (often named with some sort of pho-related pun), those that go beyond the popular noodle soup are often relegated to the SGV and Little Saigon. One such place that is just a short drive from Downtown, the northern Vietnamese Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa. Like what is perhaps the most well-known Vietnamese eatery in Southern California, Brodard, Khanh Hoa focuses on the eponymous meat-filled spring roll. Here they can be pre-wrapped or come to the table deconstructed as a platter of pork and shrimp patty, herbs, vegetables, and rice paper for a more DIY experience. The uninitiated need not be concerned, the friendly owners will gladly walk diners through the process, which boils down to roll, dip, repeat. Cash only. 1700 W Valley Blvd Ste C, Alhambra —Crystal Coser

Medium-Plus Sandwich from Howlin Ray’s

Hot chicken sandwich from Howlin Ray’s
Yelp

After almost a week spent in Mexico City, offline from the working world of Los Angeles, it felt great to get back to one my home city’s single best dishes: the fried chicken sandwich from Howlin’ Ray’s. The dish itself needs no introduction, as anyone in America with an Instagram account has seen photos of the thing, held at arm’s length and dripping with flavor. The images, somehow, don’t do the craggy, sturdy sandwich justice, but perhaps the hours-long wait in line says something about it’s overall quality for those who have never indulged. Thankfully I had a buddy who was preordering already and threw in a sandwich for me, spice level medium-plus, which I think is the real sweet spot. After endless tacos, tortas, and modern Mexican hits in CDMX, it’s good to be reminded that LA does just about everything well. 727 N Broadway #128, Los Angeles —Farley Elliott

Sformatino of Bietole at Culina

Swiss chard soufflé at Four Seasons Beverly Hills
Mona Holmes

Most expect a snobby or intimidating experience at the Four Seasons. And when pulling into a sea of fancy cars in a 15-year-old Japanese hatchback, that might be the case. You might be surprised though. Friendly faces beam from hotel workers and guests. And there is something cozy about this five-star property. Let’s be real though, the Four Seasons is fully posh, and you might glance at a group of expensively-dressed women entering a private room, a well-known actor eating a steak while reading his phone, or a hotel guest taking his dog out for a walk on Doheny Drive.

But then there’s the restaurant, Culina, and the revamped menu by Luca Moriconi. Moriconi has been spending ample time at the Santa Monica farmers market, and fresh is the word. These California ingredients are part of the dazzling, unusual, gorgeous soufflé with swiss chard. It is truly smooth and stunning dish, with chard, quail egg, pecorino, and topped with shaved black truffles. Moriconi calls it the sformatino of bietole, but the entire table agreed that this will forever refer to this as the hedonistic green flan with magic sprinkled on top. 300 S Doheny Dr, Los Angeles —Mona Holmes

Boiled Chicken from Majordomo

Boiled chicken with rice at Majordomo
Boiled chicken over rice at Majordomo
Matthew Kang

There really isn’t a hotter restaurant in LA than Majordomo, and there are numbers to back it up. Instagram a photo from there and it’s virtually guaranteed to get likes, which means it’s trending heavily on the explore section. Sure, having David Chang’s Netflix show drop just a few weeks after opening helps the cause, plus the overflow of celebrities and Hollywood industry types that have visited already. There are so many things to be said about the food, but I’ll cut to the chase with the boiled chicken, priced at $85. Think of it as a super-refined Hainan chicken with a smattering of pickled mustard greens and intense chili sauce over fragrant seasoned rice. The kicker is the pot of chicken broth (actually, more like drippings, because it’s so intensely chicken-y) turbocharged with black truffles and hand-torn Korean dough flakes (called sujebi). The APL-style short ribs are what everyone’s trying to order, but this chicken is a pretty great consolation. 1725 Naud St. Los Angeles, CA —Matthew Kang

March 1, 2018

Fried chicken and waffles from Poppy + Rose

A plate of waffles with fried chicken wings on top. There’s separate dishes of maple syrup and butter served on the side.
Fried chicken and waffles from Poppy + Rose
Crystal Coser

It’s easy to love Poppy + Rose: owner Diana Yin is as hospitable as they come, the menu of comfort food classics checks all the boxes for craveable brunch fare, and the bloody marys come topped with fried chicken — outrageous Instagram fodder that makes perfect sense with the acidity of the tomato that cuts through the unctuous chicken. But everyone is here for that very same chicken topped not on a cocktail, but on buttery waffles.

Yes, it’s the Southern brunch staple in perfect form, with chicken that manages to remain both shatteringly crisp on the outside and juicy inside, and slightly sweet meat that makes dousing it in maple syrup the natural next step. You order a second cocktail, because brunch without booze is just, as they say, late breakfast. 765 Wall St, Los Angeles —Crystal Coser

Lobster Taco from Sky’s Gourmet Tacos

Sky’s Gourmet Tacos in South Los Angeles
Lobster taco from Sky’s Gourmet Tacos
Wonho Frank Lee

There is something so far out about Barbara “Sky” Burrell’s cooking, you can’t even really put your finger on it. It’s unique to Los Angeles in the way that any food cooked in a place is unique to that time, that moment, but with Sky it’s something else. Her famous lobster taco is beyond. It’s got only-slightly-melted shredded cheese, heavy ribbons of chopped up lettuce, chunky bright red salsa that may as well have come from a can, and underneath it all are bites of lobster so tender, so wonderfully seared, they feel like a delicacy from a high-end restaurant, but placed in a tortilla. Maybe that’s the Gourmet part of the name talking.

And as for those tortillas: They’re dipped in the same oily, spicy seasoning as the shellfish itself, then griddled until crispy at the edges and pliant in the middle. It’s the make-or-break moment for this spectacular taco, the thing that gets one wondering just where Sky managed to come up with this little three-bite taco, this undeniable menu item that has spurred on a single lonely Pico Boulevard restaurant for 25 years. There are no answers. There is only Sky. 5408 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles —Farley Elliott

Yellowtail Spiedino from Chi Spacca

Chi Spacca
Yellowtail spiedino from Chi Spacca
Matthew Kang

Nancy Silverton was showing off her famous chopped salad at Chi Spacca this past Monday, which hits sweetgreen stores across the U.S. starting today. While everyone was checking out the star-studded room (Adrian Grenier, Shaun White, Lykke Li, and Eddie Huang, among others), the real highlight was this grilled yellowtail spiedino, available on Chi Spacca’s regular menu. The rolled up zucchini played the ideal counterpart to the juicy, fire-smacked amberjack yellowtail, and a gentle squeeze of grilled lemon provided that extra acidic kick to the dish. Like many things in Nancy Silverton’s canon, this ultimate display of simplicity was like exhibit A of Silverton’s culinary worldview. 6610 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA —Matthew Kang

Chicken wing from Tsubaki

Tsubaki
Chicken wing from Tsubaki
Euno Lee

Tsubaki’s got a lot of crowd-pleasing things going for it: The floor-to-ceiling windows which allow an Insta-perfect amount of natural lighting to pour in during the day, or the charming Christmas lights glowing in the surprisingly sexy and intimate space. Chief among the simple, pleasant ditties rolling out of Charles Namba’s kitchen is the yakitori, in particular a chicken wing, perfectly cut to that lollipop-skewer shape that was highlighted on a certain Netflix documentary you might have heard about a time or twelve this past week. Tsubaki’s chicken wing won’t make you roll your eyes back orgiastically the way Dave Chang did at Tokyo’s Yakitori Masakichi, but it’s a seriously juicy, salty, smoky little diversion nonetheless. 1356 Allison Ave, Los Angeles —Euno Lee

Broccoli Toast from Kismet

Kismet
Broccoli toast from Kismet
Mona Holmes

When eating the broccoli toast at Kismet, it takes a second to figure out how to dive in. But first let’s talk about how this dish became a first choice. It doesn’t sound particularly sexy, and who really truly wants to order broccoli toast? But sitting at the kitchen-adjacent bar has its advantages, more specifically to stalk the most popular dishes being expedited to tables. At this vantage point, it is impossible to miss the broccoli toast, which is a big looking and distinct dish. Kismet’s servers are gently persuasive, and chefs/owners Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer want you to leave happy.

The toast starts with a light, flavorful sesame bread, layered with herby broccoli, grapefruit, mint leaves, and the added gift of thinly sliced seasonal kumquats. But the ingredient that completes the broccoli toast is the house made labneh, which is creamy, decadent, and light years beyond any standard yogurt. 4648 Hollywood Boulevard. Los Angeles —Mona Holmes

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