clock menu more-arrow no yes
Dishes arrayed on a wood table at Majordomo, Los Angeles
Dishes at Majordomo, Los Angeles
Wonho Frank Lee

Filed under:

How to Maximize Your Order at Majordomo, David Chang’s Ode to Los Angeles Cuisine

Wisdom gained from multiple visits to David Chang’s love letter to Los Angeles

Anyone who follows LA restaurants knows enough about Majordomo by now. Momofuku chef David Chang’s first foray into the Los Angeles dining scene in January 2018 was initially viewed as one in a wave of “Carpetbaggers” by late LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold, but the far Chinatown haunt continues to weave itself inextricably into the city’s dining tapestry.

The restaurant is no small accomplishment in that regard. Helmed by executive chef Jude Parra-Sickels and general manager Christine Larroucau, Majordomo isn’t so much a fusion restaurant as it is a cubist vision of one. Chang’s commitment to recreating flavors, scents, and textures from a vast array of cultural influences with East-Asian brushstrokes is difficult to categorize, but pan out and a discernible portrait emerges: An industrial oasis, outfitted neatly with sleek wood, matted silverware, and Korean earthenware jars against a backdrop of James Jean and David Choe murals. The vision challenges diners — and nowhere is that challenge more welcome than in the diverse population of Los Angeles, where the restaurant remains one of the toughest reservations in the city.

Once diners have secured one of those reservations and peruse the menu at Majordomo, one thing becomes clear: There is little in the way of guidance or structure. Service staff, while helpful, can only inform an experience so much in a limited time. With tentpole proteins priced from $25 all the way up to $190 and no clear demarcations of how many diners these dishes are intended to comfortably feed, knowing when to visit and what to experience on a first or subsequent visit is daunting.

For better or for worse, Majordomo feels like a reflective apotheosis from Chang. From a brief stint in finance, to classically trained chef, to culinary enfant terrible, to the sometimes reluctant face of an international restaurant empire, Chang’s myriad experiences inform the menu at the industrial Chinatown space.

The food is densely referential in this regard, from the boiled chicken’s dual-sauce application visually recalling the snapper at Gabriela Cámara’s Contramar, the functional appropriation of Instagram-friendly raclette to Korean braised short ribs (a riff on Sun Nong Dan’s famous galbijjim), to the P&L-driven cynicism of showering black truffles on an otherwise perfectly simple macaroni-and-chickpea dish reminiscent of Joshua Pinsky’s sublime bucatini at Momofuku Nishi. Every dish at Majordomo feels like a Changian statement while simultaneously asking “wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do (something unthinkable) to (insert well-known dish here)?” And for the most part — those truffles be damned — the answer is “yes.”

All of this is to say that Majordomo is a full-length album in an age of culinary Soundcloud snippets and one-hit-wonders. The album demands repeat listens, across multiple seasons, coupled with a breadth of dining experience to fully grasp the role each dish might play in an ideal meal. So order a drink (and maybe a bottle of wine) and, using the number of people dining as a guideline, here’s a guide of how to order at Majordomo.

Majordomo’s menu is broken down into Bing (the house flatbread with a variety of toppings), Raw & Appetizers, Market (a section dedicated to the season’s produce), Noodles & Rice, Fish, Meat and a separate section for special seasonal proteins. The noodles and rice, fish, and meat can vary in size from being individual portions to being shareable by four or more.

Note: this guide is for dinner at Majordomo. Many of the dishes carry over to the restaurant’s weekend lunch, though there are specific entrees on that menu that will not be discussed here.

Dining Solo

Where to sit: If available, take a stool at the chef’s counter, which seems practically designed for solo dining. Outgoing front-of-house staff are more than happy to chat you up or let you pay attention to your phone, whichever works.

First Visit

The bing is required eating for first visits — soft, the scent just this side of sweet, like a savory hotteok (a Korean sweet pancake that’s griddled street-side). For a night alone, a topping like the spicy lamb or Benton’s ham might make up half of your meal. Ideally, though, it’s a brief overture to other dishes.

The other half could be a dish or two from the Market section (if the sugar snap peas with horseradish are on the menu, they’re a must-order) or, if you’re feeling peckish, one of the smaller format proteins like the fried skate, black cod, or pork belly.

Chicken hozon with bing at Majordomo
Chickpea hozon with bing at Majordomo
Wonho Frank Lee
Marinated black cod with grilled vegetables at Majordomo
Marinated black cod with grilled vegetables at Majordomo
Wonho Frank Lee

Recommended Order

— Bing with cultured butter and honey
— Marinated mushrooms — a small cold salad of slivered mushrooms served in a manner akin to a Korean banchan or Chinese liangcai (cold dish).
— Marinated black cod with grilled vegetables

Fresh cut vegetables from Majordomo on a plate
Bounty bowl with “domojang” and mascarpone koji sauce at Majordomo
Wonho Frank Lee
Broken tofu with trout roe at Majordomo
Broken tofu with trout roe
Wonho Frank Lee

Subsequent Visits

If the visit calls to skip the bing, explore the vegetable offerings in the Market section — the produce selection speaks for itself. Chang’s come a long way from decrying California cuisine as “figs on a plate,” and Parra-Sickels is no stranger to leveraging the produce available in the state. The bounty bowl is a an aptly named crudité precursor to one of the pasta dishes (the crab mafaldine, lo mein, and macaroni and chickpea are sized to share but can make an entree for a hungry single diner) or a meat dish like the grilled Denver steak, pork chop, or pork belly.

Recommended Order

— Stuffed peppers with Benton’s sack sausage
— Bounty bowl
— Fried skate rice

For a lighter dinner

— Broken tofu with trout roe (or uni, depending on the season)
— Sugar snap peas (depending on the season, if not, smoked cabbage)
— Tapioca lo mein

Whole boiled chicken presented in pot at Majordomo
Whole boiled chicken presented in pot
Wonho Frank Lee
Boiled chicken on rice at Majordomo
Boiled chicken over rice
Wonho Frank Lee

Dining for Two

Where to sit: For dinner, the main dining room is convivial and loud. A more discreet seat near the James Jean mural on the south wall can muffle the dining room din, but not by much. For dates or more low-key affairs, go with the patio. Even in colder months, those torches are very warm.

First Visit

As far as bing toppings it’s hard to go wrong — except for that pork and spicy pineapple, which is specifically for nihilists who like pineapple on their pizzas. Of the raw dishes, the broken tofu dish (sometimes it’s topped with uni, other times with seasonal vegetables or fruits) is light enough to be split in lieu of a Market dish.

After the bing, it’s important to think about the protein first — this will inform the number of other dishes that you need to order. The pork chop (if available) is easy to share, but the Denver steak, pork belly, black cod, and fried skate rice are sized as solo entrees. Limiting the proteins to one of these meats will open the door to ordering more of the Market dishes, appetizers and carbs.

After the bing, one of the tapioca lo mein, macaroni and chickpea, or mafaldine make a shareable pasta course, and two Market selections like the bounty bowl and fried cauliflower alongside a single meat or fish should suffice for a party of two.

What to Order

— Half dozen oysters
— Bing with Benton’s Smoked Lardo
— Bounty bowl
— Crispy butterball potatoes
— Smoked cabbage
— Crispy Pork Belly
— Kakigori shaved ice dessert

Subsequent Visits

The crispy rice dishes, boneless chuck short rib, whole steamed rockfish, and boiled whole chicken are generally best left to later visits, as there won’t be much room after eating one of those.

There are likely leftovers for these larger format proteins in a party of two (that ribeye is huge), so plan for minimal Market, Bing and Appetizer courses accordingly.

What to Order

— Stuffed peppers
— Bounty bowl
— Boiled whole chicken

Whole plate short rib at Majordomo with banchan sides
Whole plate short rib at Majordomo with banchan sides
Andrew Bezek/Majordomo
Duck with crispy rice and broth at Majordomo
Duck with crispy rice
Andrew Bezek/Majordomo
Passionfruit kakigori at Majordomo
Passionfruit kakigori
Andrew Bezek/Majordomo

Dining for Four

Where to sit: The dining room feels better suited for larger parties, even if only for the fact that the open space is loud and convivial, though a four-top can eat comfortably anywhere in the restaurant.

First Visit

The whole plate short rib. Make sure to reserve it in advance. The hulking short ribs positively stink with smoke, served with bibb lettuce and shiso ssam alongside kimchi and a variety of sauces. After the initial meat course, there’s fried rice made from more chopped short rib and the residual fat in true Sun Ha Jang/Honey Pig fashion.

The dish is perfect for four, provided there’s a couple starters and some vegetables to start. Make sure to finish everything off with a cold kakigori (Japanese-style shaved ice) to balance some of the heft from the short rib and the fried rice.

What to Order

— Bing with Benton’s smoked lardo
— Bing with cultured butter and honey
— Stuffed peppers
— Bounty bowl
— Smoked cabbage
— Fried cauliflower
— Whole plate short rib
— Seasonal Kakigori

Subsequent Visits

Now this is where it gets fun. If it’s available, spring for a crispy rice dish. The way the scorched rice crunches is unlike any other version available, in that the crunch is even throughout the bite. If it’s not available, skip the macaroni with truffles and opt for the pasta (usually mafaldine or fusilli) with Dungeness crab, breadcrumbs and lemon. Aside from this, three to four Market dishes, a couple appetizers or raw items and a larger format protein like the boiled chicken should do the trick.

What to Order

— Dozen oysters
— Stuffed peppers
— Bounty bowl
— Diver scallop
— Fried cauliflower
— Broken tofu
— Crispy rice (if available, seasonal) or fusilli with dungeness crab
— Whole steamed rockfish/striped bass

Majordomo interior, Los Angeles Wonho Frank Lee

For groups larger than four

Bigger groups want to add a large-format protein, whether it’s the boneless chuck short rib, whole plate short rib, or boiled chicken dish and three market/raw dishes or one pasta for every four additional diners.

Pro Tips:

  • If the wild king salmon donabe is available, do it — it’s a protein able to serve four comfortably as a main dish, and it’s only available during King Salmon season (approximately May to October).
  • For those not ferally inclined, the best way to cut the extra meat off the bone on the whole plate short rib is with a pair of shears, which can be requested from the kitchen. Carefully lodge the scissor’s blade between the sinew and bone and then cut it down further into bite-sized pieces — the way one might at a Korean barbecue.
  • The best bing topping is cultured butter and honey.
  • Crispy rice dishes are short in supply and take a while to prepare. If it’s on the menu and the party size permits, try to let the server know you’ll be ordering it as soon as possible. Also: Order them.
  • Avoid crowding the proceedings with too much bing — the bread can be pretty filling.
  • Majordomo is one of the few restaurants in the city that reliably carry temporarily discontinued age-statement Yamazaki, Hibiki, and Hakushu Japanese Scotch whiskeys.

For all of its challenges both in navigating the menu and appreciating the restaurant’s legion culinary shibboleths, Majordomo’s entry into the Los Angeles dining canon (and perhaps its founder’s success in general) is due to adherence to one core principle above all others: The food should taste good. Luckily for Angelenos, no matter how they slice it, there’s plenty of good to be had.

Disclosure: David Chang is producing shows for Hulu in partnership with Vox Media Studios, part of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media. No Eater staff member is involved in the production of those shows, and this does not impact coverage on Eater.

Majordomo
Korean onggi hiding in the bushes at Majordomo

Majordomo

1725 Naud Street, , CA 90012 (323) 545-4880 Visit Website
LA Restaurant News

Drake Is Now a Major Investor in LA Chain Dave’s Hot Chicken

LA Restaurant News

West Hollywood Now Requires Full Vaccination For All Restaurant, Bar Workers

AM Intel

After 18 Long Months, Father’s Office Returns to the Arts District

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Los Angeles newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world