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

Mining the latest dining gems LA has to offer

Two kinds of uni at Kura Sushi, West Hollywood on a blue and white plate at the counter.
Two kinds of uni at Kura Sushi, West Hollywood
Matthew Kang

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 in the past week.

June 28, 2018

Monty’s Good Burger at Arroyo Seco Weekend

Monty’s good burger
Monty’s good burger
Farley Elliott

Thousands of people crammed onto the golf course around the Pasadena Rose Bowl last weekend to enjoy Arroyo Seco Weekend, the two-day music festival with headliners like Neil Young, Robert Plant, and Kings of Leon. But some of the longest lines of the event happened back at the food tents for pizzas from Jon & Vinny, Sumo Dog hot dogs, or the all-vegan fare from Monty’s Good Burger, which had its own standalone restaurant built right on site.

The big blue building turned out an impressive amount of meatless burgers, including the above faux-cheesy double with lots of sauce. While Monty’s isn’t necessarily the meat-free burger that will convince heavy carnivores to make a switch, there was something equally satisfying and light about this concoction — particularly on a hot weekend spent outdoors. Next up: A brick and mortar restaurant for Monty’s Good Burger in greater Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott

Two kinds of uni at Kura Sushi

Two kinds of uni at Kura Sushi, West Hollywood on a blue and white plate at the counter.
Two kinds of uni at Kura Sushi, West Hollywood
Matthew Kang

The counter omakase at Kura continues to be one of the city’s most consistent and delicious sushi tastings. Chef Daniel Son is committed to preparing excellent Edo-style nigiri that combines traditional fish-aging and a solid Tsujiki Market source. One of the benefits of that Japanese sourcing is this uni course, which comes toward the end of the $100-some omakase, depending on the day, and it features both local Santa Barbara and Hokkaido uni.

For uni lovers, this is truly the best way to taste the regional differences in the sea urchin roe. The Hokkaido (on the right) has an incredible sweetness and more subtle brininess while the Santa Barbara (left) has a bit more of an assertive iodine and oceany flavor coupled with a custard-like richness. Both are excellent, especially with chef Son’s balanced sushi rice and careful construction. In the world of LA’s sushi restaurants, Kura is truly one of the best bang-for-the-buck experiences, and it doesn’t hurt to have an affable chef like Daniel Son making it all right in front of diners. 8162 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046 —Matthew Kang

The delta asparagus at Union

Delta asparagus at Union in Pasadena
Mona Holmes

Union’s joyful dining room works on multiple levels. The attentive staff are thoughtful guides for Bruce Kalman’s Northern Italian menu, which is best shared. Exposed brick and banquettes are throughout, with tables that some might deem too close. There’s an advantage to that, because it makes it is easy to get a glance at Kalman’s dishes before ordering.

And while the pork meatballs with San Marzano tomato, caper berries, lardo, and chile are filling and flavorful, there’s a wonderful dish with no meat: the delta asparagus. Kalman does something imaginative and simple with this dish, by combining black garlic hollandaise, pickled spring onion, and urfa crumb together. With this dish, Kalman accomplishes what chefs should do with vegetables: make them accessible, delicious, and memorable. 37 E Union St. Pasadena, CA —Mona Holmes

Mie karet hokkian at Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine

Mie karet hokkian from Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine
Euno Lee

The key to beating the lunch rush at Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine in Alhambra is going for dinner, where one will find that time of day has surprisingly little effect on how chewy those wonderful Hokkian-style noodles are in Borneo’s savory mie karet. The slightly onion-y flavored broth is equal parts savory and refreshing and the noodles reassuringly al dente. Borneo’s rendition is proof positive that in a discussion of the city’s best bowl of noodles, the Indonesian mie karet deserves a seat at the table. Pair those noodles with the restaurant’s perfectly flaky-chewy roti, and “doing research” is seldom such a pleasure. 19 S Garfield Ave, Alhambra, CA 91801 —Euno Lee

June 18, 2018

30-layer lasagna at Viale Dei Romani

Vitale Dei Romani Farley Elliott

West Hollywood Italian option Viale Dei Romani has already hit its stride. The gorgeous La Peer Hotel restaurant is turning out some of that city’s best plates, including a luscious 30-layer lasagna that’s sliced vertically and presented horizontally with just a dash more sauce around the edges. The dish is almost best shared because it can come off so rich, but there’s no shame in taking small bite after small bite by oneself — only to realize, somehow, it has disappeared entirely. 623 N. La Peer Dr., West Hollywood

Lewellyn’s fine fried chicken at Yardbird

Los Angeles has become a fried chicken town, with a wealth of Southern specialists serving fine iterations of the comfort food classic. However, the new Los Angeles outpost of Miami and Vegas’ Yardbird is putting up a strong fight for some of the best in LA. That’s thanks to the ultra juicy, pressure-fried bird served with chewy and crisp cheddar waffles, and a side of spiced watermelon to cut through the fat. Served in an impressive, wood-paneled setting with plenty of Southern hospitality, it’s a place the whole family will enjoy. 8500 Beverly Blvd Suite 112, Los Angeles —Crystal Coser

The breakfast sandwich at Highly Likely

Highly Likely Mona Holmes

There’s a clear chill-out vibe at Highly Likely in West Adams. Green plants are everywhere, and the clean white interior has massive windows facing Jefferson Boulevard. Husband and wife Alex and Chelsea Matthews live close by, and opened Highly Likely to introduce a walkable neighborhood cafe. The couple partnered with Gracias Madre’s Cary Mosier, and spent many months converting the former furniture store into one of the few sit down spots in the neighborhood. Former private chef Kat Turner brought a good collection of delicious recipes, including Highly Likely’s breakfast “sando” or sandwich. Turner smears Yemeni S’chug sauce on Bub and Grandma’s focaccia, then adds layers of melted sheep’s cheese, roasted tomatoes, and a soft scrambled egg. It’s fresh and filling, but not heavy. 4310 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA —Mona Holmes

Santa Barbara spot prawn with corn pudding, black bean butter, and pepper relish

Spot prawn from Lukshon’s new tasting menu
Spot prawn from Lukshon’s new tasting menu
Matthew Kang

Sang Yoon’s new Asian-inflected tasting menu at Lukshon serves only six people at a time, for just two seatings, with a reasonable but not necessarily inexpensive $110 per person. That’s about in line with Trois Mec and just a hair more than Orsa & Winston in the lower-end tasting menu segment, but still packed with luxurious bites like this Santa Barbara spot prawn, cooked to perfection and sitting atop an earthy melange of sweet corn and black bean butter.

Yoon takes the innards of the shrimp’s head, usually rich with savory flavors, and infuses it into the base of the dish while the prawn’s body nearly melts in the mouth. It’s a solid middle course in Lukshon’s ambitious new dégustation. When asked why he decided to do a tasting menu, Yoon thought it was a chance for his chefs to show off a bit of their R&D. It’s also a bit of a prestige builder, an avenue to give the classically-trained chef a sort of “luxury package” for the well-heeled and well-traveled. Still, the new chef’s counter is certainly cheaper than say, Melisse or the nearby Vespertine. The seven-courser comes with a dessert and boasts a really nice wine pairing too, though that costs an additional $55 a person. Reservations on Tock. 3239 Helms Avenue, Culver City, CA —Matthew Kang

June 7, 2018

The chicken-fried steak at Cold Spring Tavern outside Santa Barbara

Cold Spring Tavern in Santa Barbara, California. Farley Elliott

Tucked into the leafy hillsides above Santa Barbara, Cold Spring Tavern makes its bones on weekend bikers, tri-tip fanatics, and tourists willing to brave the wind-y roads for rustic ambiance and hearty meals. While the daytime sandwiches are a hit for most, the quieter, foggier breakfast is a main attraction all its own. Indulge in a rich plate of chicken-fried steak (gravy on the side), potatoes and peppers, eggs, and fruit — and don’t skip on the biscuits. The result is a surreal backwoods experience just minutes from one of Southern California’s most prominent weekend destinations, and just around two hours from Los Angeles. 5995 Stagecoach Road, Santa Barbara —Farley Elliott

Foie gras loco moco at Animal

It’s sometimes easy to overlook Animal, the debut restaurant from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Although the popular duo has since grown their empire beyond Fairfax, it’s hard to underestimate Animal’s importance to the revitalization of the streetwear-centric neighborhood. That’s largely thanks to a menu of offal-heavy dishes like the iconic foie gras loco moco, a decadent spin on the blue collar Hawaiian classic built with spam and hamburger. This one comes topped with a quail egg and generous helping of seared foie gras for a decadent layer of fat that makes this fatty dish one to remember. 435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles —Crystal Coser

Roast chicken with bitter greens and carrots at Gesso

Chris Ono, formerly of Esters Wine Bar, is the new chef at Gesso and he’s already making a mark on the Cali-Italian menu. The stylish Fairfax restaurant, with all day service and a versatile bill of fare, boasts an excellent roast chicken during dinner that does a fine job of balancing moistness and juiciness with a textbook roasted texture. Despite LA’s foray into more obscure meats and offal cuts, it’s still very much a chicken town, and this Mary’s bird comes joins a crowded roasted chicken milieu.

Alongside the chicken, Ono serves nicely dressed bitter greens and some tender browned carrots for a reasonably priced comfort dish. He finishes the chicken with a jus to round it out with a rich sauciness. Food writers generally avoid something as simple as roast chicken because it’s both hard to pull off and incredible commonplace. Ono’s dish is the exception. 801 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA —Matthew Kang

Vegan balls with black rice at the Guest House

Vegan balls with black rice from Guest House
Mona Holmes

Guest House owners Aram and Rose Serobian introduced Home to Los Feliz over twenty years ago. The pair opened Guest House in February when they closed H Coffee and quickly converted the Craftsman building to a casual Mediterranean-style restaurant and lounge. Home’s longtime chef Ara Babakhanian created mostly shared plate options that attract carnivores and vegetarians.

While a dish with vegan balls and black rice might not sound particularly appealing, the result is a gorgeous dish. The savory and herb-filled black rice accompanies the balls which are made of black beans, corn, sweet potato, almonds, oats, red onion, cilantro, kale, edamame, garlic, chili, and frisée. These are the perfect choice when looking for guilt-free indulgence. 1750 Hillhurst Avenue Los Angeles, CA —Mona Holmes

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