The Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Times put a handful of restaurants under the microscope this week. Gary Baum took on Jeremy Fall’s Beverly Boulevard supper club, Mixtape. And over at the Los Angeles Times, Patricia Escárcega dove into Openaire, while Bill Addison trekked to the San Gabriel Valley for a look at Yang’s Kitchen.
First, The Hollywood Reporter dropped its Mixtape review today. Baum cites an unbalanced experience for the Beverly Boulevard restaurant. Open since August in the former BLD space, Baum’s audit found “blunders and wonders” at Mixtape.
Though Baum found technical problems with Fall’s yellowtail crudo, he combined the beef cheek poutine and other dishes to make a great meal:
“Mixtape also does the intriguing-yet-flawed (a pastrami agnolotti; pork belly nuggets with a root beer BBQ sauce and pickled watermelon rind). So why not just pass? The answer is that a few dishes are so damned good, it’s possible to assemble one of the year’s best new meals out of them. There’s a hearty, slightly spiced and caramelized poutine — Belgian-style fries mixed with shreddings of beef cheek. There’s a subtle, delicate, fried whole rainbow trout. And a buoyant chocolate bread pudding.
Baum seemed frustrated with Mixtape, but at the same time impressed by it:
“There may be no other place in town operating at such a startling polarity between absolute brilliance and total incompetence. Course after course, it’s flabbergasting that the same kitchen (run by executive chef Nathan Santana) can be responsible for such utter blunders and wonders.”
Next up is Escárcega’s review of chef Josiah Citrin’s Openaire. She outlines the challenges of competing in Koreatown, what to expect, and states what everyone thinks but rarely says out loud, that hotel dining isn’t always the best value. But there are details that Escárcega finds worth the trek, including the $16 avocado toast:
“In Openaire’s defense, that avocado toast is a beauty: a thick mortarboard of chunky, thickly spread avocado on seedy bread, lavished on top with emerald curls of freshly snipped herbs and thin-sliced chiles.”
Escárcega plays up brunch, which brings an entirely different vibe during weekends. She also described Openaire’s brunch as “bougie, basic, exuberantly delicious:”
“Come on a weekend and you encounter a different restaurant altogether. The staff — keyed up for the large crowds — is balletic and responsive. The cooking displays a playfulness missing from the dinner menu. Everyone will tell you to order the crisp-edged French toast spackled with shards of corn flakes; they are indeed uncommonly delicious. Smoked tomatoes, smeared on toast with a mash of Rancho Gordo beans and summer squash, is minimalist and wonderful. Korean fried chicken and waffles is exactly what you want: hot and crisp, a gorgeous blitz of crunch, fat and salt. Dunk the chicken in gochujang-spiked maple syrup sauce and the dish sings.”
Are there problems at Openaire? Sure:
“The beautiful setting is not enough to sustain Openaire’s weaknesses, which include sluggish service at dinner and an uneven menu that flirts with greatness on occasion but is hobbled by inconsistencies.”
Lastly, there’s Addison’s beef noodle soup-filled venture into Yang’s Kitchen. Open since August, the modern restaurant that takes inspiration from Taiwan, China, Italy, and California. It’s fast-casual, popular, and boasts long weekend lines.
Even though Addison praises the soup, he also favors the Taiwanese pork over rice:
“The beef noodle soup is Yang‘s Kitchen’s early tour de force; lu rou fan, Taiwanese pork over rice, soothes almost as deeply. Yang braises the meat with onions, garlic, apple and a whisper of dried tangerine peel into a gravy he piles over nutty-sweet Koshihikari white rice with a soy egg (its jammy yolk seemingly lit from within), ringlets of fried shallots and more of the mustard greens relish.”
And about that noodle soup:
“But the community is here for this newcomer — above all for the beef noodle soup. Chris Yang, the restaurant’s chef and co-owner, simmers neck, knuckle and shank bones for 36 hours; the result is collagen-rich and pure in its beefiness. He adds coriander and Sichuan peppercorn to the broth. They’re used with such restraint you have to close your eyes and scan for their presence, like dredging for a childhood taste memory.”