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

Mining the latest dining gems LA has to offer

HiHo Cheeseburger at Coachella
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.

April 17, 2018

HiHo Cheeseburger at Coachella

HiHo Cheeseburger at Coachella
Crystal Coser

While lines abound for the very best food vendors at Coachella (Fuku and KazuNori come to mind), there may be no slower moving wait than for HiHo Cheeseburger in Main VIP. There’s some sort of madness to the idea of waiting upwards of 45 minutes for a cheeseburger when some of the country’s best musical acts hit the main stage. But is it worth waiting in line? The answer is yes.

Order the double HiHo, built with two Wagyu patties that have been perfectly griddled to attain a gloriously caramelized crust while remaining impossibly juicy. Adorned with melty cheese, onion jam, and house-made pickles, the burger would be a highlight even outside of a festival setting, and is certainly miles better than it needs to be given the ravenous intoxicated masses. Don’t bother asking for the simplest of substitutions. The staff deny the simplest of modifications in the name of efficiency, which, given the snaking lines and perfection of the product, seems to be well justified. Main VIP at Coachella Music Festival —Crystal Coser

Beef noodles from Woon Kitchen pop-up at ETA in Highland Park

A brown box with bouncey noodles, greens, and hot sauce at daytime.
Beef noodles from Woon Kitchen
Farley Elliott

It’s impossible to not be pulled in by the sizzling wok scents of noodles mixing with oil, garlic, beef, and bok choy over high heat. That’s exactly what Eastside pop-up Woon Kitchen wants to hear, and is precisely the reason the family-run team has been selling out at their monthly engagements behind cocktail bar ETA in Highland Park. Fans come early for the made-to-order noodles and pork belly bao buns, and with Woon’s current limited engagement schedule there’s sure to be a sellout in a matter of hours. Luckily those wok-kissed noodles will be popping up more and more in the coming months all over the city, and there are plans afoot to go permanent with a standalone structure somewhere not far from Highland Park. Until then, it’s all Instagram dreams and future pop-up plans, with eager fans trying to smell those noodles through their phone. —Farley Elliott

Grilled white asparagus special at Trois Mec

Asparagus at Trois Mec
Matthew Kang

Trois Mec remains one of LA’s most innovative and compelling tasting menu restaurants, in no small part to chef Ludo Lefebvre’s creative output, but also a well-oiled machine that is the kitchen that diners get to experience, especially when sitting at the bar. If there’s one thing the French chef loves to show off, it’s prime white asparagus in season, and Trois Mec’s daily special right now is a fat spear of the European delicacy. First the grill cook sears the vegetable, with a wood fire licking it with heavy flames to give it a tinge of blackened sear. Next chefs pour on a viscous circle of almond and white chocolate sabayon before dusting the grilled asparagus with grated comte cheese. Paired with a minerally white wine, the overall effect of a bite of this dish is of a deconstructed Swiss fondue. It’s pretty ingenious. 716 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles —Matthew Kang

Spinach cheese empanada at Malbec Market

Empanadas at Malbec Market
Mona Holmes

When stating requirements for a quality empanada, the dough to filling ratio is crucial. Pastry consistency runs a close second, and the crew at Eagle Rock’s Malbec Market gets them right. Malbec Market is a no-frills deli and that opened in 2016 on Colorado Boulevard. The menu maintains simple bites, with options that include tapas, and very respectable hot and cold sandwiches. But the victor is the spinach cheese empanada. Malbec’s empanadas are exactly what you hope for after taking a bite. The dough is firm, but not thick and doesn’t overwhelm the filling. The dough is lightly salted, and pieces of spinach and cheese are perfectly balanced. Two or three can easily make a perfect meal. 1632 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles —Mona Holmes

April 3, 2018

Stacked enchiladas from Panxa Cocina

Panxa Cocina
Stacked enchiladas from Panxa Cocina
Crystal Coser

Panxa Cocina, the sister restaurant to Roe Seafood, is one of the small handful of Southwestern restaurants that thrive in Los Angeles. Chef Art Gonzalez is making a strong showing of the regional cuisine, with plenty of those coveted hatch chiles that make an appearance on everything from stacked enchiladas to charred queso. It’s those enchiladas that steal the show though, with a “Christmas salsa,” that is both red and green varieties, that add striking contrast to the plate. Those hatch chilies, roasted and pureed, contribute a smoky kick to layers of tortilla, short rib, and cotija, making it unrecognizable from the casserole dish of your childhood. 3937 E Broadway, Long Beach —Crystal Coser

Oysters and caviar from Monsieur Marcel in the Original Farmers Market

Monsieur Marcel
Oysters and caviar at Monsieur Marcel
Farley Elliott

It’s easy to discount Monsieur Marcel at the Original Farmers Market as “just a speciality grocery store.” That would, of course, leave out the endless supply of quality take-home goods, the hundreds of French cheeses and warm baguettes, but it would also not take into account the shop’s standalone French restaurant right across the walking path. With access to that large pantry of ingredients as well as freshly-flown fish (not to mention the approachable wine list), Monsieur Marcel’s wraparound dining stand is a star all its own. There are many highlights but chief among them may well by the oysters, popped fresh and, if asked politely, dropped with a bump of caviar for one single, supreme, all-encompassing oceanic bite. What a way to welcome in the season’s warmer weather. 6333 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles —Farley Elliott

Snake River Farms ribeye cap from Bourbon Steak in Dana Point

Bourbon Steak
Snake River Farms ribeye cap from Bourbon Steak
Matthew Kang

Often with steakhouses, more is more, but Bourbon Steak at Dana Point’s ritzy Monarch Beach Resort sees a bit of the “less is more” philosophy on some parts of their menu. That’s because their tableside Snake River Farms ribeye cap is a nice departure from the massive chops on the menu. Snake River Farms is known for their American wagyu-style beef, and the deeply rich and beefy steak gets a brief smoking in hay before it’s unveiled tableside. Each sliver is coated in a thin liquid tallow, and imbued with a hint of that hay smoke. Served with some caramelized fingerling potatoes and a savory peppercorn sauce, it’s a truly decadent way to enjoy steak without filling too much on beef. 1 Monarch Beach Resort N, Dana Point —Matthew Kang

The youth brûlée at Donut Friend

Donut Friend
Youth brûlée at Donut Friend
Mona Holmes

Once you get past the lengthy line that moves at a snail’s pace, the choices are fabulously tempting at Donut Friend. Owner Mark Trombino opened the Highland Park shop in 2013, and no one really complains about the wait. The sugar addicted simply settle in, and figure out which DIY donut to create, or pre-made donut to select from the display case. The youth brûlée screams at you, because why wouldn’t you choose a caramelized donut with Bavarian cream in the hole? Speaking of, who does Bavarian cream anymore? The divine mixture distinguishes itself from custard by using milk, eggs, and gelatin before whipped cream is folded in. The donut makers drop a generous dollop in the center, and a secret ingredient brings everything together before the blow torch takes over: orange zest. Pictured with the polar berry club, and strawberry lab, the youth brûlée’s crunch and creaminess is a big part of why Donut Friend prevails, lines and all. 5107 York Blvd Los Angeles —Mona Holmes

Cold appetizers from Ding’s Garden

Ding’s Garden
Cold appetizers from Ding’s Garden
Euno Lee

Sichuan-style cold appetizers are as hit-and-miss as anything in the SGV, but Ding’s Garden faithfully transports their Rowland Heights favorites to Pasadena’s Colorado Blvd. Though the beef tendon can be ordered a la carte, it takes three price points before you get down to a cold appetizer combination plate that includes the beef tendon. It’s almost like they know. Certainly one of the most highly regarded beef tendon dishes in Pasadena (or Rowland Heights, or anywhere in the SGV, really), Ding’s rendition is just the right amount of salty, spicy, and working through its thin, ribbon-like texture interlaced with little grassy bites of cilantro provides a nice play on texture. The gelatinous-yet-chewy pig ears are also more than welcome to the party — though the little rounds of bean curd feel a little lost in the fray. A healthy hit of mala spice rounds out the proceedings, and it’s as pleasant an overture as any to Ding’s popular beef noodle soup. 1535 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena —Euno Lee

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