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LA Times Critic Calls Konbi’s Food a “Complicated and Delicious Feat”

Plus love for all things Lebanese at Hayat’s Kitchen in Hollywood

Katsu sando at Konbi, Echo Park, on a blue plate.
The pork katsu sando at Konbi
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Absolutely everyone seems to love Konbi in Echo Park, including the Los Angeles Times. The daytime Japanese sandwich shop earned plenty of shine this week thanks to new Times food critic Patricia Escárcega, who finds herself amused by the delicate and precise dishes inside the 500-square-foot space. She says in her weekly review:

Technically precise cooking, made to look easy, is a hallmark of Konbi

The eggplant katsu sandwich gets the most love in the piece, but there’s still plenty of room to sing the praises of a well-lit egg salad sandwich held together by an “immeasurably rich dressing” that includes Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise.

Indeed, at least part of the appeal of the place for Escárcega seems to be its photographic dominance, as Konbi’s well-layered sandos do seem to be clogging social media feeds all over the city. She says:

If you’ve spent any time scrolling through L.A. food Instagram posts in the last few months, there’s a good chance that one [Konbi’s Japanese carry-out sandwiches] — cut into neat thirds and stacked, cut-side up, on pretty blue ceramic dishes — has populated your feed.

hayats hollywood
Inside the new Hayat’s Kitchen in Hollywood

For Times critic number two, it’s all about the new Hayat’s Kitchen in Hollywood. The longtime North Hollywood staple pushed onto Cahuenga late last year with plans to expand its dinner menu as well as its bakery options, and though the full form of the place has not yet been realized, critic Bill Addison still finds a lot to enjoy.

Addison notes adoringly that Hayat’s relies on “immaculately fresh beef” for the raw meat standard known as kibbeh nayeh, and says of the fried kibbeh iteration also on the menu:

A buzzing fragrance of allspice hits the olfactory system when you break open Fahed and Shatila’s version; dip it in unstrained yogurt for cooling contrast. This is my favorite savory dish at Hayat’s Kitchen. If I were dining solo I’d order the fried kibbeh alongside, say, some respectable tabbouleh and be content.

In total it seems that with just a few months under its belt, Hayat’s is still finding its final form. Owner Hassah Shatila promises that housemade pitas and more sweet dishes are on the way, though already the ma’amoul — “soft, patterned cookies stuffed with minced walnuts or, best of all, date paste trilling with orange-blossom water” — are a hit.